OKEECHOBEE — It was a sad week at Okeechobee High School.
Okeechobee High School Principal, Dylan Tedders, said the school “has been hit hard this week with loss. First Tyrell, now Trey.”
Trey Howard, a member of the Class of 2015 lost his life in an industrial accident earlier this week, bringing a pall over a school still in shock from the loss of another former classmate, Tyrell Taylor.
Trey had a promising future, and had already made the decision to enter the Air Force in December of this year.
“Trey had a pleasant personality and a sharp wit,” Mr. Tedders said. “I’ve heard numerous references this week, to his GQ smile.
He was stubborn about what he wanted and his favorite go-to line was ‘I got this’ when reminded to finish his senior year strong.”
Carol Bryant, media specialist at OHS, recalls their conversation near the end of his senior year with Trey asking, “Mrs. Bryant what am I going to do without you?”
She replied, “You are going to come see me.” Of course, Trey grinned.
Mrs. Bryant noted, “Now all of us have the question in our minds, ‘Trey, what are we going to do without you?’”
Trey was also known for his acting at Okeechobee High School, with a role in the musical “Once Upon a Mattress.”
“He was so handsome, but had no rhythm,” drama teacher Debbie Raulerson fondly recalled. She added that they always joked about it with Trey. She remembered Trey as a “GREAT reader and lover of books.”
“Trey Howard was a teammate and brother to many on the OHS Swim Team and staff,” OHS swim coach Stephen Neafsey said.
“His three years on the team were comprised of a plethora of memories I hold near and dear to my heart. Trey was one of the first swimmers I had the pleasure of meeting his sophomore year, along with a number of graduates of 2015. From carpools, cross-fit workouts, to shaving parties in the garage of his home, Trey was always beaming with energy and enthusiasm,” he said.
“He was always there to push other swimmers to do their best during swim season or in the classroom. This past spring he was asking younger swimmers what they were doing to keep in shape and offered to join them in training.
“In his senior year, Trey began diving for the OHS Swim Team. Due to the lack of facilities, he would drive out to Lake Placid High School in order to train with their diving team. He started diving in a very abrupt manner, learning six dives within 20 minutes during warm-ups in order to legally qualify for the competition. By the end of the year, Trey earned the title of sixth best diver of all time for the OHS Swim Team.”
Mr. Neafsey concluded his thoughts with, “His memory and influence on the team is carried on through the participation of his sister Alyssa Howard and brother Jonathan Hedrick. We have and will always be there for our swimmers and their families. We have all suffered greatly by this loss which speaks volumes to the great amount of love we have shared and will continue to share. His family will continue to be part of the OHS swimming family for many generations to come. We will be looking to keep his memory alive by honoring Trey on a new record board to be installed at the pool.”
Superintendent of Schools, Ken Kenworthy released the following information late Wednesday afternoon:
“Many of our teachers, students, and parents knew Trey and are grieving as a result of his passing. He was a great individual who will be missed by many.
“As a tribute to Trey, his family wishes to commemorate his life by instilling the love of reading in others. What a tremendous way to honor him due to his passion for reading.
“Please pass the word that we would like to do our part honoring this young man by making such donations as easy as possible.
There are several ways we can facilitate this:
“1. Feel free to donate books to any school by dropping them off at that school. We will make sure that labels are created to honor Trey as well as the donor.
“2. You can drop off books at the county office and designate a specific school and we will make sure they are directed to the school of your choice.
“3. In the event you or someone you know would like to make a monetary donation so that grade-appropriate books can be purchased on your behalf, an account has been set up at Yearling Middle School. You will be able to designate what school you would like to have the books sent to after they are purchased. Yearling has been kind enough to facilitate the collection of cash and make the purchases on behalf of all schools. They will make sure the donor’s wishes are filled as to which school(s) will receive the books.
“Trey’s passion for reading will continue to thrive as hundreds of children will have access to books in his memory. We wish his family the very best in this difficult time.”
Social media had hundreds of posts paying tribute to Trey, who will certainly leave a legacy in our community with memories of his infectious smile, fun-loving nature and love of reading.
Mr. Tedders added, “This community has poured out their heart to them [the family] in this tragic loss and it will be evident in the services on Sunday. The idea to supply books in his name will allow others to partake in the lost art of reading, for pleasure, by students. If this action causes one student to read a donated book and start a lifetime of reading, it will be worth it.”
Leah Suarez is a freelance writer.