Margaret R. Brown Elementary School normally sports brown and orange. But Friday, the Seymour school took on a shade of blue.
The reason was to support first-year assistant principal Lisa Speidel, whose son, Josh, was seriously injured in a car accident Feb. 1 near Taylorsville.
Josh Speidel is a 6-foot-8 standout for the Columbus North High School varsity boys basketball team, and he has signed to play at NCAA Division I University of Vermont.
People have shown their support with signs reading “#JoshStrong.”
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On Friday, Brown Elementary did its part to support the Columbus student-athlete.
Students wore blue, colored signs and autographed banners and posterboards, and fourth-graders were recorded while singing a song. Staff wore white T-shirts with #JoshStrong and Columbus North’s logo on the front and Josh’s jersey number, 32, on the back.
At the end of the school day, students gathered in the library by grade for group pictures while holding their signs.
Everything the school did is going into a YouTube video and will be shared with the Speidel family.
“Whenever he knows that we’ve done all that kind of stuff for him, he’ll really like that, and he’ll know how much we care for him,” fourth-grader Brooke Trinkle said.
“It just shows that we’re thankful for Mrs. Speidel, to show that we care for her family,” fellow fourth-grader Aiden Darlage said.
The school realized how hard the incident has been for their assistant principal and her family. Staff members felt it was important to do something to show support.
Brown set the event for Thursday, but school was canceled because of the weather. Students, however, still showed up to school Friday wearing blue.
Music teacher Kathy Porter said recording the kids singing was spur of the moment. The message of the song “The Power of the Dream” is how your mind can take you a long way, but your heart is what really puts it all together for you, Porter said.
“Any time someone’s injured, it’s really important that they know, even if they can’t talk about it, they can feel it,” she said. “Whenever they play the music or show (Josh) this video or when (Lisa) and her husband see the video, I think that’s going to be pretty powerful.”
Porter said she was proud of her students for being a part of the video.
“I think that was a big revealing of their true feelings about how they do care about people,” she said. “When they know people need help, they step up.”
Seeing the school come together to support the Speidel family was amazing but not surprising, Porter said.
“The teachers and staff at Brown school are absolutely awesome when it comes to supporting one another,” she said. “Even though it’s Mrs. Speidel’s first year to be at Brown school, I think that she knows even with an incident like this, as tragic as it is, she knows the support that she has here at Brown school.”
Porter said she likes working alongside Lisa Speidel.
“She has brought an outside perspective, and I think she has a way of bringing people together,” Porter said. “Even though it has just been basically one semester, I think she has worked hard to try to build some bridges, and that’s really important when you have a staff that is as big as ours and a student body that’s as diverse as ours.”
The students like Lisa Speidel, too.
“She’s a really nice person, and if someone gets in trouble or anything, she can take care of it,” Aiden said.
“She’s really fun,” Brooke said. “She’s not shy at all. She’s really talkative.”
Some of the students remember one day this school year when Josh Speidel had a day off from school and his mom took him around Brown Elementary.
“He told us a little bit about himself, and he likes basketball,” Brooke said.
Brooke is a basketball player, too, and she said Josh shared an important message with her and her classmates.
“He says to never give up, and there’s no time to quit,” she said. “You can always be a basketball player no matter how old you are.”
On Friday, it was important to the students to share a message with Josh and his family.
Aiden said they are in his prayers.
“Just hope,” he said. “There’s always hope.”
Zach Spicer is a staff writer for The Tribune of Jackson County, a sister newspaper of The Republic.