UPDATE: Community Mourns for Michael Manning

Those who wish to send a memorial message and photos for printing in The Mountain Enterprise as a tribute for Michael Manning are invited to send their comments, notes and photos to Editor@MountainEnterprise.com as soon as possible. Subject line: MM  [Please see below]

FRAZIER PARK (April 23, 2009, 4:15 p.m.)–A group of youth gathered at the skatepark in Frazier Mountain Park this afteroon to "Ride for Mike." Michael Manning was a joyful BMX bike rider and an avid skateboarder, said to have encouraged numerous youth to "keep on trying" to gain skills he’d mastered. At a memorial event on Wednesday many spoke of how Manning had been an inspiration to them.

LEBEC (April 23, 2009, 2:20 p.m.)–Frazier Mountain High School held its formal memorial for Michael Manning in the gymnasium this afternoon. ASB advisor Tim Garcia welcomed students to the memorial and introduced Manning’s close friends Ryan Herron, Taylor Herron, Jackson Romanowski and Robert Burns, who spoke about their memories of Michael and their belief that he would want not want them to grieve. His friends said Michael loved the FMHS drum line, which stepped forward to play several numbers in his honor. A slide show followed with images of Manning flying through the air on his BMX bicycle mid-stunt with the song "Kids" by MGMT playing. His teammates from the Falcon football program gave a team shout. ASB President Nick Onyshko spoke of his memories of Michael (see Memorial Notes below).

Onyshko said the ASB is collecting money to help the family with funeral expenses. For every $2 donated, $4 will be added to the donation by Friday Night Live (FNL), another student organization. You can drop off contributions to the school office in an envelope labelled "Michael Manning." Checks can be made out to FMHS ASB with "Michael Manning" in the memo field.

PINE MOUNTAIN (April 22, 2009, 10:20 p.m.)–Tonight, beginning at 7 p.m., about two hundred youth and adults came together at the Pine Mountain village gazebo in a spontaneous memorial for Michael Manning, 15. The Frazier Mountain High School sophomore died April 20—almost exactly 48 hours earlier. He fell from a cliff on San Emigdio Mountain.

"We’re a small community, a small school. We are a family, one family. Michael was a brother to all of us, even those who were not his closest friends," one young woman said. Parent Alex Fields, who is also president of the FMHS Booster Club, encouraged the youths to "grieve, but grieve responsibly."

Children from eight years of age, Michael’s fellow students, parents and teachers all stepped forward to share their own experiences and memories of the young man. He was widely known for his kindness to others and his perpetually cheerful manner, they said. He was a talented athlete.

Young men and women, teenagers, spoke lovingly of the friend "who never said a mean word to anyone." They fondly remembered his love for snowboarding, bike stunts and skateboarding. They laughed about his low-slung trousers, prominent boxer shorts and about his classroom pranks. About 35 people, or more, spoke through tears and often in choking voices to tell their friend good-bye and to comfort one another. Clusters of teens embraced through tears and sobs. They talked about "the unity of the Falcon family."

Fields asked that people not go to the mountain overlook where Michael died until the worst of their shock and grief had passed, "and only go in the daytime, responsibly," he said, indicating concern that emotional youths had been talking about going up to San Emigdio Mountain. "We don’t need any more tragedies," Fields said.

MEMORIAL NOTES: (include yours by sending to Editor@MountainEnterprise.com, subject line: MM)

Dear Mountain Enterprise,
My name is Shalyn.
Michael Manning was an amazing person. He cared for everyone and always showed respect. We all loved him and we always will. I met him about only three times but he really was one of the nicest guys I ever met.=]

I’m Michael’s uncle-In-law. It breaks my heart to hear of this tragic incident. To see the family members go through such great hardship. I can only ask that when you see your parents, children, family, friends, cherish them. Let them know you love them.

Nick Onyshko, Frazier Mountain High School ASB president:
One day, I was in Ms. Castillo’s room 7th period having a meeting with her about ASB. She had just gotten the rowdy class settled down and called Michael over to her desk (where I was sitting) to give him the test. Michael and I said ‘hi’ to each other and as he was walking back to his desk with the test, Ms. Castillo yells “Michael…pull up your pants” at that point he turns to her, pulls up his pants and says ‘oh…you know you like it.’ The entire class then breaks out into a roaring laugh, myself included.
Michael was able to bring a smile to my face that day, and every time I saw him around school after that, that moment popped into my head, and I couldn’t help but smile.

Even though he was a classmate I didn’t know very well, that memory of Michael will stay with me forever!

Through Michael’s death our Falcon Family has become united. We will grieve, and hurt as a family, but eventually we will overcome this tragedy, and heal, together, as one.

Michael has showed us that life is a gift, and you never know when that gift will be taken away. Value your friendships and do not take a single day for granted as many of us, including myself, have done for far too long.

 Please see continued updates in the April 24 edition.

This is part of the April 17, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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