To the McCallie community,
For more than a week, our community has been united in prayer and concern for eighth-grader Jackson Standefer, who has been missing in the Grand Canyon along with his step-grandmother LouAnn Merrell after falling into a fast-moving creek in Grand Canyon National Park. We have remained hopeful that Jackson would be found safe as emergency workers from the National Park Service and others searched around the clock in the area where he went missing.
During this uncertain time of sadness and fear, I have seen our community rally together to love and support one another. Boys have linked arms to pray, cry and comfort one another. Faculty and parents have prayed and been shoulders to lean upon and cry upon.
The search for Jackson and Mrs. Merrell has been unsuccessful to this point, although there are still efforts underway to locate them. Over the weekend, the Standefer family came to a decision to hold a celebration of Jackson Standefer’s life and to allow Jackson’s friends, family and the entire McCallie community to gather in prayer and show our love and support for the Standefer and Merrell families.
This celebration will be held Wednesday, April 26, at 7:00 p.m. in the McCallie Chapel. The entire McCallie community is invited to join Jackson’s family, friends, classmates and teachers. Friends of Jackson and his family from the community and other schools are invited to join us during this time of celebration, remembrance and reflection.
Jackson is a beloved boy with many friends and various activities within and beyond the McCallie community. Friends and faculty talk about the smile on his face, the sparkle in his eyes, and his positive attitude. He is active in the McCallie outdoor program and Young Life and has been a member of the McCallie crew team this year after playing baseball and lacrosse for McCallie earlier in previous school years. A boy of character and kindness with many talents and interests, he is the embodiment of what it means to be a McCallie boy.
A teacher wrote of Jackson: “I have both coached and taught him as a student. Jackson has a willing spirit and easy smile. When he encounters something difficult, he approaches it with grace and resilience. Jackson has the rare gift of lighting up a room without saying a word. He has a quiet sense of humor and is a joy to teach.”
One of Jackson’s classmates said: “Jackson is always optimistic. He always sees the good in things. He is always cheerful and has a big smile. He loves soccer and watching the Chattanooga Football Club games in town. He is friendly and caring of others.”
I hope you will join us as we celebrate this special and beloved boy and that, as we gather, we find, amidst tears, comfort and strength and the peace from God that passes all understanding. And may we continue to love, support and pray for the family of Jackson Standefer this week and beyond.
Lee Burns ‘87
Parking information for Wednesday evening's service:
The Chapel lot lot will be reserved for parking by the Standefer family for the Memorial service.
Parking elsewhere on campus will be available until all spaces are filled, at which point satellite parking will be available at Notre Dame High School with shuttles delivering guests to campus. Follow the instructions of McCallie security staff on where to park when you arrive.