The start of a school year — remembering a boy who isn’t coming back

August 19, 2018 GMT

As I arrived to my classroom to set up for the coming school year, I opened my file cabinet to begin to unpack the odds and ends that need to be unfolded for the new school year.

Staring at me was a newspaper clipping about a basketball star that I had laminated and placed on my bulletin board the previous school year. I typically do this to celebrate my students and highlight their successes for one another. However, the devastation of this clipping echoed in the quiet of my classroom. This young basketball star lost his life due to a violent act over the summer. Sadly, he made the front page of our local newspaper for a very different reason.


Nicholas K. Kaye, 17, a resident of Ohkay Owingeh, attended classes here at Santa Fe Indian School. He would walk into class with a smile, a positive attitude and a great outlook on life. His contributions in our seminar class were reflective and often deeply insightful.

What I remember most about Nicholas Kaye was how he would go immediately to the whiteboard and write a wonderful quote. He loved surprising me with a quote each day. It was one of the most surprising things about him, and I looked forward to it every day.

When you teach high school, sometimes teenage students will knock the wind out of you with their amazing outlook, energy and wisdom. His infectious smile and respectful ways with all people were wonderful. It was a privilege to have known this young man and witness his contributions to the world, even within a ninth-grade class.

I think his contribution will spread beyond my classroom or the walls of Santa Fe Indian School. We can learn from Nick’s life.

At the start of this school year, let us treat one another with profound care and kindness. No matter who we are, where we come from, how we are, let us walk each day within our schools with grace, love and respect for one another. Let us honor one another, but most importantly, let us honor Nick.

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? — Rousseau

Francella Manzanares teaches a ninth-grade seminar at Santa Fe Indian School.