MILWAUKEE — On the morning of Monday, Nov. 9, the eighth grade class at St. Anthony School, Milwaukee, was gathered for an impromptu meeting at which counselors, faculty and staff informed them that their classmate, Zaira Tellez, died in a car crash the night before.
According to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tellez was a passenger in a car driven by a fellow 14-year-old girl. Zaira, who was seated in the rear, was ejected from the car and killed. The driver and two other passengers, a 15-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl, were treated for non-life threatening injuries.
“As a faith community and as a school it really is a double pain for us because it’s not just a student, but it’s the daughter of one of our employees,” Jose Vasquez, first-year president of St. Anthony, told the Catholic Herald. “The relationship between the Tellez family and St. Anthony is a very strong relationship…. Zaira has been a student here since kindergarten.”
Her mother, Martha Tellez, is a receptionist in the school administration building.
“St. Anthony is a family,” Vasquez said. “Even though we have multiple campuses, we are all family. We support each other.”
He said after the students at the Fourth Street campus were told of Zaira’s death they went into the chapel and said a rosary for the Tellez family.
“We immediately set up a system of counselors,” he said. “We did have several students reach out for help … we know they are going through a lot of emotions right now. Some of them may be repressing them, but there is support for them.”
Vasquez said the staff is waiting and listening to the students.
|Donations to the Tellez family may be made at any US Bank branch or through www.gofundme.com/zairatellez
“It was clear some of them (students) were stunned by what had happened,” he said.
On Tuesday, Nov. 10, there was a prayer service for the family at St. Anthony Parish, Milwaukee.
“Everything that I have heard from students and staff is they’ve been very impressed with her,” Vasquez said of Zaira. “Clearly committed to her studies and committed to her faith, as is the same thing with her mother.”
Zaira’s brother, Manuel Tellez, is a seventh grader at St. Anthony. He returned to school on Nov. 10.
“He wanted to be with the middle school,” said Lydia LoCoco, vice president of mission integration. “It will be a special time to come together.”
LoCoco said since the news broke there has been an outpouring of love for and memories of Zaira.
To help pay for the funeral, individuals can go to any US Bank branch and donate to the “Tellez Fund” set up in her name.
“People are really coming forward with donations,” LoCoco said. “People are really showing their support by contributing for her funeral.”