JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Students gathered Monday morning at the Paxon School for Advanced Studies to remember a student who drowned in the St. Johns River.
Reuben Dachoute was at a park in Arlington with a friend when they both jumped into the St. Johns River, but the strong current pulled Dachoute under.
"I still can't even believe that it actually happened. It's very hard to come back to school. I didn't want to see everyone. It's sad. But I feel like everyone being here, we will all be supportive and make it through the day," said Dachoute's friend, Oyetunji Oyewooe.
Monday is the first day back at school from spring break for students at Paxon. They've rallied together, spreading the word through social media for everyone to wear red in memory of Dachoute, and to meet before school begins for the balloon release.
"Everyone got red balloons because they knew that was his favorite color. We didn't want to do black because Rueben wasn't the type to wear black," said Kirsten Ayers, a friend of Dachoute.
Just before classes began, they released balloons in his honor.
"Everyone is being super supportive. Some people need their other, others need to be comforted. But everyone is here. It's hard, but everyone is respecting everyone else and helping each other out," said Ayers.
The hashtag #redforrueben is being used on social media by students at the Paxon School for Advanced Studies to get everyone on board to honor the friend and classmate they lost during spring break.
"I just can't believe I'll never get to see him again, it's crazy, he was a good friend," said Kyle Hildebrand.
Dachoute's friends said they'll remember him as an intelligent, 18-year-old high school senior who loved to turn anything into a song.
"He was a great musician, loved to play his instruments. Loved to hang out with his band friends. The whole band was like a family to him. His smile that was the first time you saw was his smile. It would lighten you up, made you feel happy inside and made you feel warm. He was very compassionate," said Oyewooe.
Dachoute's friends and classmates have expressed on social media that coming back to school Monday knowing he won't be there is going to be difficult.
One Facebook post read: "If changing the world is changing the lives of everyone who had the pleasure of knowing you, you definitely altered the world in many ways. We're all different because we had the chance to know you, and though the whole class of 2014, and other friends and family, all miss you, we know we are beyond blessed to have had the opportunity to have you in our lives, even if it was for a short time. Rest in peace Reuben."
Dachoute's Facebook page said he was a drum major in the band at Paxon.
A Facebook page has set up to honor Dachoute's memory. It's Facebook.com/GoRedForRueben. Anyone can donate to help with funeral expenses, or purchase "Go Red for Rueben" memorial T-shirts.
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