SLEEPY EYE— It wasn't the way they wanted to start their Monday.
But given the circumstances, it might have been the only way to start it.
The students and staff at St. Mary's Catholic High School gathered Monday for a somber memorial service for Payton Adams, 17, one of four young people killed Friday night in a horrific crash on an icy Highway 14 west of Sleepy Eye. The others who died were John Mangen, 18, and Tyler Hadley, 20, graduates of Sleepy Eye High School, and Caleb Quesenberry, 17, of Springfield High School.
Only Adams' school was in session Monday. But instead of jumping into math and science, students and staff took time to remember their fallen classmate.
"We had an hour and 25-minute prayer service with slides and videos," said St. Mary's Catholic School Principal Jerry Neubauer. "Kids cried and laughed and did a lot praying and it was very healthy for us."
That service followed one held Saturday night in the school's church, which Neubauer said was full.
Sleepy Eye High School and Springfield High School already had been scheduled for non-class days. But both schools opened their doors for a few hours so that any students who wanted to speak with a counselor could do so. Officials at both schools say a few students took advantage of the offer.
Quesenberry was described as an energetic kid.
"He was high-spirited. Brought a smile to kids' faces," said Springfield High School Principal Pat Moriarty.
Quesenberry's parents lived in St. Peter, but he lived with relatives in Springfield. He'd also spent some time attending the Alternative Learning Center in Windom.
"He enjoyed being with his friends," Moriarty said. "He was just a good, fun-loving kid."
The same could be said of Payton Adams.
"Payton was a very likeable kid," Neubauer said. "He wasn't going to graduate as my valedictorian, but he made friends with everybody. ... Payton just had a way with kids, fellow classmates or whoever he was with. He could talk to anyone."