Long-Anticipated Assembly Discusses Death of Former Student and Distracted Driving

Aubrey Hall, Photography Editor

In November of 2015, after Manitou’s annual Drive Smart campaign had drawn to a close, a large portion of the student body expressed their collective dissatisfaction with the content of it. This was primarily due to the omitting of an incident that had occurred several months prior: the death of former student Ryan Lanosga. Lanosga had been involved in a car accident during the last few days of the school year previous, and the loss hit close to home for many Manitou students who had known him. After an editorial about the campaign written by Ted Weiss went viral and was eventually featured in The Pikes Peak Bulletin, several MSHS Student Council members and school administrators stepped in.

In the original planning of the Drive Smart assembly, four of Lanosga’s friends were to speak about the way in which they were affected by his death. These students were Konnor Kaltenbacher (11), Atticus Fredrickson (11), Bryce Coop (11), and Patrick Hain (12), and on the evening of March 16, after months of working with student council members Sophie Kilroy (12), Taylor Finn (12), and school administrative officials, they finally got their chance to speak.

“Our school administration presented a lot of obstacles,” said Sophie Kilroy (12), “Not that they weren’t valid, but there were a lot of political and valid obstacles throughout the whole thing.”

According to Kilroy, these obstacles made the assembly a difficult thing to plan, though the terms of the evening were eventually agreed upon. “We made a compromise to have the assembly during after school hours, so we were still allowed to use school facilities, but it just wouldn’t be required for the whole student body to come,” she said.

The evening began with dinner, provided by the parents of several students. Despite the assembly falling on the eve of the first day of midterm exams, many students from Manitou and other local high schools came to show their support and grieve alongside one another. Throughout the brief slideshow featuring various photos of Lanosga, as well as the speeches given by Kaltenbacher, Fredrickson, Coop, and Hain, students could be heard crying, sniffling, and laughing with one another. It was apparent that one moment that proved to be particularly emotional for a majority of the audience was during the speech given by Konnor Kaltenbacher (11).

“Ryan’s probably the person that I’ve spent the most of my life with,” he said, “And when you spend that much time with that person every single day, you get to know them more than yourself. Every single day he would take that selfishness that I had away from me. […] He taught me, without knowing, without trying, […] that there are always other people in the world that care about you more than you do yourself, and I care about him so much.”

The evening concluded with a speech, given by a guest speaker, about the consequences of distracted driving. As the assembly ended, students and adults alike rose from their seats in the bleachers to hug and reminisce with one another. A poster outside of the new gym where the assembly was held read, “Never Forgotten,” and was quickly filled with signatures and heartfelt messages as the night went on.

Sophie Kilroy (12) believes that the discussion about Lanosga is an important and healthy one to have among the student body. “I think it’s important to talk about Ryan, especially right now,” said Kilroy, “Because it is something that happened very close to our community; therefore it directly affects everyone who lives in it, [such as] Coronado, Manitou, and everything in-between, so I think that having it so close to home really makes a bigger impact than something that you see on national news or something you just read about. Ryan was very close to a lot of people that go to our school and if we want this school to be a community, we have to talk about the hard things that happen, even if we might not want to.”