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The LaFrance Fund: Selvidge Middle School creates donation page for 6th grader shot and killed

"LaFrance was a great kid. It's just a stark reminder that life is precious," said Michael Anselmo, principal at Selvidge Middle School.

BALLWIN, Mo. — Blue and green rocks are nestled near the entrance of Selvidge Middle School.

Each one is gently placed in the Kindness Rock Garden.

"We actually have memorial rocks for students who've passed away who came through here or went onto high school and we do have one teacher, as well," said Michael Anselmo, principal at Selvidge Middle School.

The bitter and harsh reality is the garden will grow with one more rock.

"LaFrance was a great kid. It's just a stark reminder that life is precious," Anselmo said.

Sixth-grader LaFrance Johnson was shot and killed, as he was at his aunt's house Tuesday night.

Credit: Family photo
LaFrance Johnson

His 10-year-old brother found a shotgun on the bed inside the home and it went off.

Their aunt, Aja Johnson, now faces charges.

When the news started circulating Wednesday morning, students trickled into Selvidge Middle School crying.

That's when Anselmo learned what happened and did his best to comfort them.

"I just recognized the 24 hours in which he was here and then he wasn't and how I interacted with him," Anselmo said.

Anselmo spoke with LaFrance the very same day he passed.

"It was just something silly about running the hallways. Now, recognizing that I am never going to do that again with him," he said.

Anselmo said the Selvidge student body is a tight one and LaFrance was a big part of it.

"We treat it like a family. LaFrance was always smiling and always a positive disposition in regards to others. I think you ask any of the teachers here, he was a positive influence in their classroom," Anselmo said. 

However, LaFrance will continue to shine at Selvidge.

"We'll have a memorial rock for LaFrance that we'll set up here so kids can come out and see it and take pause, think and reflect on who he was and how they can be better people by having him in their life," he said.

The sudden loss comes during a devastating school year for the Rockwood School District.

Back in November, three teens were killed in a fiery crash in St. Louis County.

Two Marquette High School students were killed and two others were injured in a crash. A third teenager who attended De Smet High School was also killed in the crash.

"The tragedies that happened in November were directly related to us here because a couple of those students went to Selvidge," Anselmo said. "They were friends with my son in 10th grade."

In early December, 18-year-old Eureka High School student Kiley Kennedy was shot and killed in the same week a teacher in the district died unexpectedly. 

On Dec. 15, Carl Hudson, a longtime educator and mentor in the district, died after an extended illness.

At the end of December, Bob Wilhite, the band director and a teacher at Crestview Middle School, died.

While the pain is overbearing, Anselmo is trying his best to be a rock for his students and reminds them, to be kind.

"We shouldn't take each other for granted and be good to each other. Recognize that this moment can pass very quickly or be taken from you, do everything you can in the moment you are in," he said.

Selvidge Middle School created a donation page on Thursday.

100% of the donations are going to the Johnson family.

If you'd like to donate to the LaFrance fund, click here

Once you go to the website, under the 'school' section click the 'Selvidge Middle School' option.

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