feature

Quiles gets unexpected welcome

Katie Quiles, junior, reflects on her traumatizing experience at her previous school. Quiles has attended three high schools. Photo By Scott Sollazzo

Jessica Shrinsky
staff writer
“Are you sure you can handle all of my weird-ass experiences?”

   With her Monroe beauty-mark piercing and rebellious attitude, junior Katie Quiles is a girl who looks like she can handle just about anything. But nobody can handle seeing a dead body.

   “It was my first day (at Booker High School) and this girl hanged herself in the bathroom.”

   Quiles had no knowledge of what she was about to face as she walked out of her classroom to the office on Nov. 1,  2011.

   “I was already sent out to the office,” Quiles recalled, “and while I was going there, they announced a lockdown, and that’s when I saw the  stretcher.”

   The lockdown wasn’t being held for an unwanted person on campus, it was to prevent young eyes from seeing the scene that the new student  had the misfortune of stumbling upon: a classmate lying dead on a stretcher.

   “Her neck was purple and cut open,” said Quiles.

   Quiles later found out the  truth through the inevitable string of texts that were bound to follow an event like this, and the truth was this: On Nov. 1, 2011, Ebony Connor, 17,  used a phone charger to hang herself in a Booker High School bathroom. She was revived at the school and died two days later at All Children’s Hospital  in St. Petersburg.

   “A lot of people knew her, and no one knew why she killed herself,” shrugged Quiles. “I just feel bad for the people who are too scared to  say what’s on their mind.”

   In the aftermath of this experience, the bathroom in  which the suicide occurred was blocked off.

   “Girls were actually scared to go  into the bathrooms. They felt like it would happen again.”

   As for Quiles, she lived with the same haunting feeling that it could happen again at  any time.

   “When I first moved here, I wouldn’t go in the school bathrooms,” she admitted.

   After the tragedy, Booker High School brought counselors on  campus and told whoever was grieving could go to the counselors whenever they’d like. Quiles refused.

   “I don’t think it was my place to go,” she said. “I  didn’t know her.”

   Almost every student is nervous about their first day of school. What if they trip in the middle of the hall? Oh, the horror. No, that’s not real horror. Nobody has seen the same kind of horror as this student on the first day of school.

   Welcome to Booker High School, Katie Quiles.

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