Today, at 10:00am, Patrick Turner will be laid to rest. He will take with him the hopes and dreams of two parents, a sister, and two brothers.
A week ago, Pat was a seemingly happy-go-lucky sixteen year-old teenager, playing baseball and clowning around with his friends.
I say seemingly because over the weekend, he would take his own life.
Pat grew up in Newport Beach, CA. and attended Corona del Mar High School. This is important because there aren’t too many other places in the nation where expectations are as lofty. US News ranks CdM high 71st out of 650 high schools in California and 413th out of more than 22,000 high schools nationally. Students at Corona del Mar are testing over 30% higher than the state average in California in Math, English, and Science. Over 95% of students are graduating from Corona del Mar High with 86% of students meeting UC/CSU requirements.
Oh yes, Newport Beach has been ranked as the fourth richest city in the U.S.
All this to say that just the thought of being “ordinary” is out of the question. You MUST succeed. Teachers and parents will constantly remind you of this in case you forgot. The pressure is enormous.
The notes that Patrick wrote are floating around the internet. I have decided not to keep them posted on this blog. The family needs time to heal.
Patrick was very specific about what caused him to come to this point. The pressure to perform. Not from his parents but from school. He wasn’t allowed to be a kid. This is par for the course in America now a days. That doesn’t mean it’s right.
I will say this. Things WILL NOT change until colleges change their curriculum on what they consider a worthy application from a prospective student.
All of this has hit me extra hard. I mentor a group of sophomores (same grade as Pat) here in Irvine, which is the next city east from Newport. CdM High School is in the same league as my guys.
I wish I could say that I’m surprised at this. I’m not. The schedule that my guys have is mind boggling. One of my guys practices with his baseball team from the end of school, 2:00pm until 6:30pm. Then he has to go home and do 4 HOURS OF HOMEWORK. That’s right 4 hours. And this is the norm. They are constantly having to perform
I wish I could have talked with Pat. I would have told him it’s okay to not want to be like the others. It will be difficult for awhile, but when you’re out of the house and working, you’ll be just fine. Life is much more than striving. Yes, it is hard, but there is so much more than what you’ve experienced.
I pray that Pat’s notes will make a difference. I hope that people will take a moment to take stock of what their priorities are and make the necessary changes.
Even though I never met Pat, I hope to see him someday.