May 27, 2020 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Area schools go blue for Tyson

Tyson Mendoza loved the color blue.

So that is the color area schools wore to honor him on Monday.

Mendoza, 5, was a kindergarten student in the Sullivan School District. Mendoza was killed when a school bus was hit by SUV on Friday.

The Sullivan School District changed their Homecoming Spirit Week to honor Mendoza. On Monday they wore blue and many area schools joined in, including St. Joseph Middle School, St. Joseph Grade School and Prairieview-Ogden.

Prairieview-Ogden Superintendent Vic White said he was on Facebook and saw that Sullivan was going to wear blue to honor Mendoza.

White reached out to the superintendent at Sullivan regarding the tragedy and then discussed with PVO South Principal Jeff Isenhower about having PVO students wear blue to support the Sullivan district, communities and the families effected.

“We have just about 100 percent of all our students show support today,” White said. “The PVO Community has always come together to support “someone” in need.  I am very proud to be part of this community.”

White said it is important to teach children to support and help those in need.

“Based on the morals and values I was taught I feel that we should help people and communities when we are able too especially when tragedy occurs,” he said. “We want our students to learn these values too.  The best way to do that is lead by example.”

White said he stresses with the PVO employees that family comes first.

“That is my number one rule,” he said. “So if you have something going on with Family ——put them first.”

St. Joseph Grade School Principal Michelle Wagner agreed.

Wagner said a teacher texted her on Saturday to let her know that schools were showing support for Sullivan by wearing blue on Monday.

“We knew if we were in a similar situation that it would mean a lot to us to know that other schools were thinking of us at such a difficult time,” she said.

Wagner said the grade school gym was a sea of blue on Monday.

Wagner said that since the children at the grade school are younger her plan was to focus on being supportive on others and not focusing on the death of a child.

“I know that is a scary topic for some kids and is not something a child needs to be worrying about,” she said.

During the morning assembly Wagner discussed how grown ups have rules and expectations they must follow, just like children and how rules and expectations keep everyone safe.

“I reminded them to listen to the bus drivers and teachers because they will help them stay safe,” she said. “Then I thanked them for wearing blue and told them it made my heart happy that they were thinking of others and trying to show kindness to another school—that’s what being a good person is all about.”

Wagner said she thought it was important to support Sullivan because tragedy can strike anywhere to anyone at anytime.

“No one ever wants something like this to happen; it is such a tragedy,” she said. “Losing anyone is hard to deal with but when it is a child it is especially tough.”

Wagner said that schools work hard to keep students safe and losing a student in a bus accident is extremely difficult.

“I think is important for others to know that they are not alone,” she said.   “We are all thinking about what we would do and what we would need if we were in the same situation.  No one should have to go through this alone.  We hope in some small way that Tyson’s family and school family will take comfort in knowing that many people around the state are thinking of them and sending them love and well-wishes.”


St. Joseph Middle School Principal Chris Graham said teacher Timbra Hilton approached him the idea of having the middle school participate.

“We sent out messages to our teachers that we would participate in this and posted it on our Facebook page for our parents and students,” Graham said.

Graham said students at the middle school were very supportive of the idea and many of the students had heard about the tragedy.

Graham said he felt it was important to show support for the Sullivan community.

“The few minutes we took out of the school day serves as a reminder to us all that our community is larger than the walls of our school buildings and the people that we do know,” he said.

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