BAY HARBOR ISLANDS, Fla. – It’s been a rough start to the school year for students at Ruth K. Broad Bay Harbor K-8 Center in Bay Harbor Islands as they are mourning the loss of four of their classmates who were killed in the June 24 condo collapse in Surfside.
“It was really devastating. I was really sad not being able to see them in the halls,” said eighth grader Lucia Lecour.
On Thursday, a special visitor helped lighten the mood.
Miami Heat player Ӧmer Yurtseven and other members of the Heat arrived at the school bearing gifts, passing out school supplies to all 1,300 students.
“They’ve been through a lot and we want to support them, really,” Yurtseven said.
Among those killed in the collapse were a pre-k student and a second grader who were about to start at the school this fall, and a kindergartener and sixth grader who were already enrolled at the school.
“I couldn’t sleep for a week, and selfishly, that’s just how it impacted me,” Principal Scott Saperstein said.
Some students at the school survived the collapse, but are now displaced.
“When you have your family disrupted and you don’t have housing, that’s certainly a stressor, a big stressor for the children,” Saperstein said.
The goal Thursday was to make the students’ burden a little lighter with free notebooks, backpacks, highlighters, pencils and water bottles.
“I think that this event, it got everyone up and it was a good thing that it came and it just cheered everyone up,” eighth grader Ariela Brody said.
Students told Local 10 News that they try not to think about the tragedy too much, but they’ve gotten stronger and are doing their best to honor their classmates’ memory.