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Geneva Mourns Loss of High School Student Josh Sweet

Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at Christ Community Church, 37W100 Bolcum Road, St. Charles.

Geneva School District 304 reports the sad news that Josh Sweet, a Geneva High School senior, died Thursday, Aug. 1.

"Our thoughts are with the Sweet family during this difficult time, and as a school community, we share in this loss," School District 304 said in an email blast to parents and students at the school.

The Sweet family would like to share the following information:

Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at Christ Community Church, 37W100 Bolcum Road, St. Charles.

A celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, at the church. Interment will follow at Oak Hill Cemetery in Geneva.

"Josh could usually be found wearing a hoodie and lacrosse shorts. His family asks that those attending Josh's services come as they are, dressing in relaxing attire, as Josh would have," District 304 said.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Josh's memory may be directed to Christ Community Church Benevolence Fund, 37W100 Bolcum Road., St. Charles, IL 60175.

If your son/daughter would like assistance coping with this loss, please call Geneva High School at 630-463-3800.
Gracie August 05, 2013 at 05:54 PM
School District 304 needs to do more regarding suicide prevention. Wake up Geneva, this is happening way to often.
Melisa Wehrmeister August 05, 2013 at 11:41 PM
I realize this is a very sensitive subject, and I agree that school districts can include helpful programs to deal with this very sad subject. But, I must respectfully ask why this was the school district's fault? Because they don't have curriculum dealing with it? I don't understand.
Colin C. August 06, 2013 at 09:13 AM
Melisa, I dealt with this dilemma for a large part of my professional life. This is my opinion, for what it's worth. Up until about fifty years ago schools were pretty much expected to teach academic subjects in order to prepare students to make a living. At some point expectations began to change and now it seems that they are expected to do everything. At the same time our society's knowledge expanded and our attitudes changed and continues to change rapidly. My parents generation (they were born before 1910) tried to deal with personal problems by "sucking it up and moving on". We now know that didn't work very well for them. In the latter half of the 20th century we began to learn a lot about more positive ways of dealing with issues like grief, addiction, depression, mental illness, anxiety, anger, learning disabilities, eating disorders, abuseive relationships, dysfunctional families, sexuality and sexual orientation, dealing with personal catastrophe; all those problems that can make a person's life miserable and can lead to suicide. And at some point we began to expect schools to deal with this while at the same time they found themselves trying to teach students to earn a living in a much more complex and demanding world. There are only so many hours in a school day. My wife and I started and ran a community based program that taught teens how to work effectively with these problems. We worked with about 25 school districts and had maybe 8,000 kids through the program in the 20 years that we ran it. It's still going strong today and helps a lot of people but still only a small fraction of those who need it. So, no, most parents can't do this, they simply don't have the knowledge or skills and kids don't listen to their own parents anyway. Schools don't have the time. I don' have a good answer.
Colin C. August 06, 2013 at 09:21 AM
But having been so close to it for so many years; having dealt professionally and personally with so much pain, my heart breaks for the kids; no, for all of us who cannot find a way past that despair and for all of their families and friends who are left to wonder "why?" and, worst of all, "what could I have done?". My thoughts and prayers are for them.
Mike August 06, 2013 at 04:32 PM
Gracie, when was the last time there has been a suicide in Geneva? 1 person in the 4 years I was there isn't too bad, in my opinion.
Melisa Wehrmeister August 06, 2013 at 07:10 PM
First of all, thank you Colin for your well-stated and very wise response. I am very grateful that there are people such as you and your wife that see a serious need regarding the support of students, parents, and the school districts, as well! Gracie, I don't know you nor your relationship to Josh Sweet and his family. I was in no way trying to jump all over you about your comment. When we are faced with such tragic situations in life, I do know that it is human nature to want to place blame somewhere. If you are close to this situation and were striking out in sadness, I understand and am very sorry for your loss. That being said, I must admit that I have been a public school teacher for 26 years. As Colin explained, there has been an increasing demand for schools to "fix" the ever-growing societal issues plaguing all of our lives, and especially those of our children. Please know that we as teachers care deeply for our students, and will gladly go above and beyond to help them. We gladly take on the roles of teacher, counselor, nurse, etc. when need be...that's just who we are. However, for communities to believe that it is our responsibility, and (from your comment) seemingly ours alone, to address and solve these very complex problems is, in my judgement, misguided, at best. The task of creating learners with a broad base of knowledge dictated by our federal and state governments, not to mention, the visions of our individual school districts, is a monumental job in and of itself. It's difficult, at times, to be made to feel that we're not doing enough. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those involved in the loss of this young man, as well as all families dealing with the loss of a child.
JLD August 06, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Well said Melisa.
JLD August 06, 2013 at 10:54 PM
And FYI...Geneva High School counseling has done a wonderful job on suicide prevention programs for the faculty. They have been very proactive and care a great deal about their students and the community. Unfortunately, when something tragic like this happens, we want an explanation as to WHY it happened, but that simply is not always possible. My philosophy is that if you can make it through high school, you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. My prayers to Josh's family.
Mike August 06, 2013 at 11:11 PM
I didn't know Josh, and I don't know the family - but as a parent I feel so much sorrow and my heart goes out to the family. I'd respectfully ask that we refrain from posting about what could've been done and if there are school resources in place, etc. Let's just be quiet, mourn together and count the blessings we all have in our lives.
DJP August 07, 2013 at 08:19 PM
We did not know the Sweet family but we want them to know that our heart breaks for them & that they are in our thoughts and prayers.

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