On Sept. 13, members of the Fitzgerald High School community gather on the school’s football field to remember Danyna Gibson, who died the day before after reportedly being stabbed at school by another student.

On Sept. 13, members of the Fitzgerald High School community gather on the school’s football field to remember Danyna Gibson, who died the day before after reportedly being stabbed at school by another student.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Fitzgerald gathers to remember Danyna Gibson

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published September 14, 2018

 A fleet of Fitzgerald Public Schools buses, including one with the district’s #FitzNation hashtag, line Eureka Avenue during the vigil to remember Gibson.

A fleet of Fitzgerald Public Schools buses, including one with the district’s #FitzNation hashtag, line Eureka Avenue during the vigil to remember Gibson.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

WARREN — Members of the Fitzgerald High School community gathered the afternoon of Sept. 13 on the school’s football field to remember Danyna Gibson.

Through their tears and grief, staff and students held a vigil to honor the 16-year-old student who, on Sept. 12, was reportedly stabbed with a knife in class by another student and died from her wounds. The somber event was also held so members of the school community could support each other as they mourn.

At the vigil, several students spoke about the time they spent with Gibson and how much she meant to them. While members of the media were not permitted onto the football field, school officials allowed them to stand on the perimeter of the campus.

Speaking over a public announcement system, teachers and classmates remembered Gibson as a “loving, understanding, smart, beautiful, motivated” student with a “positive spirit” who was “always smiling.” She was in the National Honor Society, a member of the marching band color guard, and also participated in the student council.

Prior to the vigil, school officials released Gibson’s name on the district’s website and on its Facebook page. During the vigil, a fleet of Fitzgerald Public Schools buses lined Eureka Avenue behind the high school, which is located at Nine Mile and Ryan roads.

“Thank you to the students who spoke on Danyna’s behalf. Your words were profound,” FPS Superintendent Laurie Fournier said. “We are grieving for a peer, student and classmate. We are honoring a young lady that was loved by so many. I want to send my sincere condolences and sympathy to the family and the Fitzgerald community.”

Students were dismissed at 10 a.m. Sept 12 following the incident, and school was canceled Sept. 13. At press time, classes were set to resume Sept. 14. Grief counselors were available to speak to FHS students and staff.

Several community members, including Warren resident William Schatz, watched the vigil from Eureka Avenue.

“It made me heartbroken,” Schatz, 43, said of when he heard the news of the stabbing. “I started crying. It tore me up. It’s sad. Very sad. This violence needs to stop. This is hurting everyone.”

Christine Phillips, 71, of Warren, also paid her respects along Eureka Avenue.

“It’s just heartbreaking. How sad it is such a beautiful life was taken so instantly,” Phillips said. “I can’t imagine what the family is going through, and also the family of the suspect and all the children who witnessed it.”

Phillips and her husband, Robert, both attended FHS, as did their five children and two grandchildren. She said her daughter texted her Sept. 12 about the stabbing.

“She said, ‘I can’t get my head around this.’ She never felt unsafe in school ever,” Phillips said.  

At the vigil’s end, staff and students released balloons of purple, blue and gold into the sky. The marching band also performed the school’s alma mater “Blue and Gold” song.

On the afternoon of Sept. 12, Superintendent Eve Kaltz, of the neighboring Center Line Public Schools district, issued a letter to parents and guardians of CLPS students about the incident.

“This is a horrible tragedy and will remain with the students and staff who witnessed the attack, as well as the families of the victim and the assailant,” Kaltz said.

A small percentage of FHS students attend Center Line High School and vice versa because both districts — along with Van Dyke and Warren Woods — are part of the Southwest Macomb Technical Education Consortium. SMTEC provides career technical education to 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade students, and students are bused between the districts to attend class in a variety of subjects. According to Kaltz’s letter, counselors at CLHS will be available to meet with students, especially the students who attend FHS for classes, about the incident.