Friend of the blog and Capitol Hill neighbor Christine Vineyard, an art teacher and artist also known as Lidflutters, was distressed to find out that one of her former students, Saige Ballard, was killed this past Thursday, June 11, as she left a party. The incident happened a couple of blocks away from Stanton Park. I asked Christine to write a few words about Saige. We’ve become too comfortable with death happening all around us as a society that it’s easy to forget that Saige was a girl, a student, a friend. — Maria Helena Carey
I just finished my tenth year of teaching and my umpteenth year of working with youth through art classes, camp, tutoring, student teaching, and other various activities. I have taught at many schools in two cities, Atlanta and Washington DC, and have taught pre-K through 12th grade, as well as older teens and adults. I have crossed paths with a lot of students; however, there are some who stick in my memory more than others.
Saige was one of these students. She was in my art class at Wilson High School in Northwest DC, and she was such a fun part of my class. Saige had a huge personality and could make her presence known while still being a model student. She juggled academics, a social life and extracurricular activities and made it look effortless. Saige always had a smile on her face and I looked to her to see the bright side in a situation. She was the type of person who was friendly with everyone, showed all her classmates kindness and empathy, and was fiercely loyal to her close circle of friends.
As we had block classes, I was afforded an hour and a half to get to know my students. Saige sat at a table with three of her best friends, one of whom I had previously taught as a middle schooler. It was so fun to have my former student back as a high school student and see her growth and transformation. This connection also helped to break the ice with Saige and the rest of the girls at the table.
Kids are often cautious, timid, and shy at the beginning of the school year when faced with new classmates, new teachers, and possibly a new building. Saige didn’t show this: She had this way of making you feel like you had known each other for years and made you feel instantly comfortable and welcomed. We teachers also get nervous at the start of the school year and feel anxious engaging with new kids. This was also my first year at Wilson so it was new territory for me as well. Saige had a goofy, silly sense of humor that meshed with my personality and she quickly became someone I looked forward to seeing everyday in class.
Saige was an intelligent, driven, ambitious, and loving young woman who was back in DC after finishing her freshman year of college in Atlanta. Her life was taken too soon, but she leaves behind a legacy of love and positivity, as well as many people who loved her, who will continue to lead with love and light in her memory.