Community asked to live their lives as Maren would have

Speakers at Monday night’s vigil for Maren Sanchez, the teenager killed at Jonathan Law High School Friday, said the community should carry on Maren’s legacy and be kind and caring as she was, and enjoy life as she did.

“Her life was a miracle,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy, “that she could have accomplished so much in so short a time. That she affected so many people.”

Maren was involved in many activities at her school, from the drama club to the National Honor Society. She was the manager for several athletic teams at the school, and she played guitar and sang.

Friends, officials and clergy who spoke at the vigil at Jonathan Law High School Monday night said Maren brought people together, that she was adventurous and fun-loving.

The governor described her as “a miracle” and said people should follow her example, “live our lives just a little bit better.”

Maren was stabbed by a 16-year-old boy at school Friday morning. Police have not identified the teenager, but friends and social media identify him as Chris Plaskon, a 16-year-old boy they say had a crush on Maren and was angry that she was not going to the prom with him.

Cynthia Knapp, the minister at St. Peter’s Church, told friends, students and others who attended the vigil that Maren would have forgiven her attacker, and she asked them to have the courage to move past hate and anger as well.

“Chris was her friend, and I’m sure she has already forgiven him,” Knapp said.

Pastor Michael Bulkley from Kingdom Life Christian Church said Maren “gave love and supported everyone.”

“If you were 15 feet from her for more than 15 seconds, it was like she was your best friend,” Bulkley said.

Rabbi Schneur Wilhelm suggested people perform “random acts of goodness and respect” and demonstrate tolerance for each other in Maren’s honor.

About 2,000 people came to the Jonathan Law High School football field, many wearing purple — Maren’s favorite color — and carrying purple balloons for the community-wide vigil. They lit candles in her memory.

Several friends, including Giovanni Marzullo, Evelyn Castro and Phoebe Herbert, spoke.

One friend said Maren was quirky and outgoing. Another recalled making grass skirts and grass headbands with Maren when they first met in elementary school.

Kelsey Burns, a Jonathan Law High School teacher, said Maren was asked to take pictures at last year’s prom, and she wore black to sort of fade into the background. But it was impossible for Maren to fade into the background because she had too much spark and personality, Burns said.

School Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Feser spoke also, and she said she is still in shock at the loss of a Milford student and is filled with grief.

“I struggle to the core of my being with the loss of Maren Sanchez,” Feser said, adding that schools should be safe for students.

The outpouring of support has helped, she added. Thoughtful messages from people outside the Milford and Jonathan Law communities have let students and staff know that others grieve with them.

“The message,” Feser said, “is we are not alone. We are not alone.”