OKLAHOMA CITY – In Mr. Roberts’ fourth grade classroom on the second floor at John Glenn Elementary, Jasmen Gonzalez’s art work and completed assignments hang as she left them last Friday.
“As she left she hugged me and said, ‘I’m going to Texas Mr. Roberts.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll see you on Monday, sweetie,” John Roberts, her teacher, remembered.
The little girl kidnapped and killed in Carrollton over the weekend wasn’t just a name, but someone folks here knew.
She was a fourth grader in the Western Heights School District on the west side of Oklahoma City.
The 10-year-old was also bilingual, Mr. Roberts’ remembered, and studied hard to improve.
“Her grades were probably ‘C’s,'” he said, “But she earned them with pride.”
Jasmen was on the dance team, relished her nickname of ‘J. Lo’ because of the mole over her lip, and wanted to be a teacher when she grew up.
But Monday, Mr. Roberts sent home grief guides with Jasmen’s classmates and set aside the curriculum for counseling.
“One child said ‘Mr. Roberts, Can I pray for Jasmen?’ I allowed her to say a prayer,” he recalled. “Another child wanted a moment of silence. I honored all the requests that the children had.”
Jasmen’s principal was remarkably candid as well, clearly upset at whoever could commit such a crime.
“For me, I’m saddened and angry," said Archie Scott, principal. "If he were here I would probably be angrier at him or whoever the person was because it didn’t have to happen."
Counselors will be on campus all week, he said.
“We talk all the time about being alert to danger and people who may cause you harm and how to go about making sure you’re safe,” Scott added. “I don’t know if we did a good job on this. You never can say because we don’t know exactly what happened.”
Roberts can’t bring himself to clean out Jasmen’s desk so soon, though some students suggested boxing up her belongings to give them to her parents.
Last week, Roberts said he taught students the cycle of life – the concept that all things die – now he struggles now to explain why.