Haywood students return to school after classmate’s death

BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. — The Tomcat family at Haywood High School in Brownsville is still trying to cope with the loss of a star student killed over the weekend. Christine Michael was shot Friday night while riding in a car with three others. The 16-year-old was on her way back to Brownsville from a high school basketball game in Ripley.

Monday marked the first day back to class at Haywood High School since the deadly shooting. Students arrived to find extra law enforcement patrolling the campus, a reminder for many that their friend was gone.

“When I found out her life was taken from her it hurt me and I tried to hold my tears, but I let it go today because I know I won’t be able to see her in the hallway,” said Synandiaha Welch, a classmate of Michael. “She made me happy. She was an angel. And the fact that I’m not going to be able to see her again, hurts me.”

Welch says the entire school is still grieving, and many students couldn’t be consoled.

“I saw about 20 people in the bathroom crying about Christine talking about they about to go home,” said Welch. “Grade 11 is so heartbroken because that was our president. Like we looked up to her, and we don’t know what we’re supposed to do now.”

Michael’s family said she had a bright future, was at the top of her class at Haywood High School, had a 4.0 GPA, was class president, was a thriving member of the student council, and was an athlete.

“She made me actually start fighting better for my grades,” said Welch. “She was smart. She had goals. She talked about how she wanted to be a model. She wanted to be a CNA. She wanted to have a good life.”

Haywood County Schools Superintendent Amie Marsh issued a statement Sunday calling Michael “a promising student who had tremendous plans for her future.” Marsh also laid out plans to have these extra patrols for safety, along with support for the emotional needs of everyone still in mourning.

Welch said Michael’s friends are trying to stay positive by honoring her memory. They’re planning a memorial with everyone wearing pink, Michael’s favorite color.

“Her just being joyful, that’s what I’m going to remember about her,” said Welch. “What Christine would normally say is push yourself forward, don’t let nobody break you down. That’s what she always told me.”

The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office arrested two people for Michael’s death, Kevion Davis, 18, and a male juvenile.

Both were booked in the Haywood County Jail on first-degree murder charges, and on no bond, court records showed.