BY JESSICA POLLARD
LOHS Freshman Maya Tedeschi passed away on March 28 at age 15.
Twin sister of freshman Jenna Tedeschi, Maya was known for her pink glasses and spunky personality to match. She was a student of the Life Skills class at LOHS, and her presence remains very much alive both inside and out of the classroom. “For someone to have made such an impact in so little time goes to show you just what kind of person they are,” said Life Skills teacher Nancy Longman, who taught Maya this year.
Maya and the Tedeschi family moved to Lake Oswego last August from Arizona, where Maya attended Cocopah Middle School. It was there that she played baseball and participated in the Special Olympics for track.
“She liked to hang out with her sister Jenna, and loved ‘Veggietales,’” said sophomore Izzy Katlaps, who worked with Maya through the Peer Mentor program. Maya had a lot of favorites, including the color pink, the band Big Time Rush and the movie “Elf”. She loved to play Miracle Baseball and was an excellent swimmer.
“Everything was her favorite,” said Special Ed Assistant Jennifer Campbell, “ she made everything so much more special, she was so genuine about it.She loved music, she did not like all music though and was not bashful to tell you when something wasn’t her favorite in the same way she’d tell you something was.”
At LOHS, Maya enjoyed baking cookies at Joe’s Boathouse. “We worked together during community access class, and I really enjoyed that time with her,” said junior Brandi Paquette. She also had a passion for exercise, incorporating “super-Mayas” and “eggrolls” into her frequent workout routines.
The Monday following Maya’s passing, Longman held what she calls a “team table” to discuss ways to honor Maya. ASB made a banner for Maya which students could sign, while Life Skills supplied students with pink accessories like sunglasses and ribbons to wear at lunch. “It was very heartwarming for us to see how many people wore pink that day,” remembers Longman. Chips and salsa, a favorite Maya combination, was donated by the cafeteria and Special Ed Assistant Mattie Bock for the student body to enjoy in Maya’s honor. The Life Skills department also decorated a flower pot with thumbprints for the family.
On Thursday April 3, a service was held for Maya. “We were so pleased to see how many people came and spoke about Maya at the reception,” said Longman, “everyone had their own unique Maya anecdote to share. The thread was her smile. Everyone: family, staff, even those who only passed her in the hallway knew about her smile.”
“The best part was hearing from her family,” said Bock, “We knew Maya here, but to hear their stories, we got to know her even more.”
Those who worked with Maya found a reason to smile about the Thursday service, considering Maya always joked about “having Fridays off.” “That night, I just cranked the tunes, because that’s what Maya would’ve done,” said Longman. Bock and Campbell were quick to agree.
“She could always turn your day around,” recalled Katlaps, “she could always find a way to crack you up.” Her catch phrases, endearingly nicknamed “maya-isms”, never failed to make those around her smile.
“She had good timing, she was a comedian,” said Longman. Maya proceeded many of her jokes during Life Skills with a joyous “April fools!”
Maya’s silly side was met with equal parts compassion. She always had plenty of compliments to offer others, from complete strangers in the halls to those she knew quite well. “She’s given me a new perspective on how important it is to tell people when they look nice, and to be genuine about it,” said Bock.
Maya will be remembered for her lightheartedness and ability to make fun out of any given situation. “That’s what she taught all of us, to have fun and not take the small things so seriously,” said Campbell.
“We still feel her, it doesn’t feel like she’s missing but we know she’s missing,” said Bock.