RC campus still reeling from tragedy
Decision looming on how to pay tribute to the late Ashley Carlson
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By Kelli Davis  May 16, 2014 12:00 am

Students, teachers and administration officials at Rancho Cotate High are still trying to come to terms with the tragic death of one of their own one week later.

Senior Ashley Carlson, 17, was killed in a fatal car accident on Llano Road outside Santa Rosa on May 6. Reactions from the student body, even those who were not close friends of Carlson’s, have been overwhelmed by feelings of shock and disbelief. This tragedy has affected everyone associated with Rancho Cotate High School.

She was in the passenger seat of a car driven by her best friend, Ashley Kellogg, 18. According to a California Highway Patrol report, Kellogg lost control of the 2008 Honda Civic, ran off the road on a straight portion of Llano, hit a tree and then careened into a utility pole. The impact forced the vehicle to overturn and land in a field. All three, the CHP said, were wearing seatbelts.

The past week, there has been a heavy atmosphere of anguish looming over the school from teachers and students alike, many not able to stop themselves from crying. The few who were able to fight back the tears have been extremely somber and serious about the issue. 

Kellogg said she is simply trying to get her life back to normal. Kellogg said she is, “supporting who I need to support and getting therapy.” 

It seemed like throughout the Rancho Cotate campus, there was a pervasive sense of hopelessness this past week.

Many Rancho students attended a candlelight vigil on May 7 on campus.

Rancho Cotate student Zeli Jackson, 17, spoke about her feelings regarding Carlson’s death, “I didn’t know her, but I’d seen her around. It’s still sad to know somebody I’ve seen had died, though. My heart goes out to all of (Ashley’s) friends and family.”  

Angela Scardina, assistant principal at Rancho Cotate, says that nothing has been decided right now for any special plans at graduation, but that the senior class is definitely planning to do something to honor Carlson.  

The accident seems to have caused revelations in the hearts and minds of most students at the school. Many of the students have been reflecting on just how easy it is for someone to be taken from the world and how to stop that from happening again. 

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