School community comes together to heal


Photo Courtesy of Rylan Wilder

Rylan, center, performed as vocalist and lead guitarist with his band Monarchy over Monday at Riot Fest this past September.

By Finley Williams and Maggie Nielsen

Silence lay heavy on Mr. Telles’ second period English class as he informed his students that Rylan Wilder was in stable condition.

On Nov. 19, Rylan, Div. 261, was shot in the arm and stomach by a Des Plaines police officer after a suspected bank robber led police into UpBeat Music and Arts, the nonprofit music school where Wilder was working, according to WBEZ.

Described by his parents as “a driven and talented musician” in the GoFundMe started to aid in paying his medical bills, Rylan is the lead singer and guitarist of the band Monarchy Over Monday, as well as a diligent second-year Omega student.

According to Telles, Omega Coordinator and Rylan’s freshman year English teacher, Rylan’s love for music has always been apparent.

“When we talked about music, he lights up a little bit. He’d be like, ‘Yeah’ and he’d hand me — this button, he gave me,” said Telles, holding a button labeled “Monarchy Over Monday.”

Following Rylan’s injury, a “community message” informing students of the incident was sent out on Nov. 20.

“We ask that the Lane community keep this family in our hearts,” the email said. “We realize this is a difficult time for our students, so as always our crisis team is available as needed for our students.”

Telles explained that students and teachers alike — indeed, the Lane community as a whole — are affected.

“When I found out about Rylan, I was just shaking and weeping,” Telles said. “I decided to start teaching because it took my mind off it, but when I was at the board, in between pauses of writing, it was hitting me. It was like treading water. I’m just emotionally drained from it — can’t we all just be safe?”

He continued, “You see the kids who are friends with these students, they’re visibly shaken, as well as the teachers. Ms. Sears [Rylan’s current English teacher], when we found out about Rylan, she couldn’t control herself. She had to shut it down.”

Community members both within and beyond Lane have responded to Rylan’s injury with outpourings of support: Omega students have made cards, signed posters and written positive messages in books; students, parents and friends of the Wilder family have donated to their GoFundMe. Additionally, a show Monarchy Over Monday was scheduled to play on Nov. 30 was converted into a benefit concert for Rylan.

Rylan says the deluge of support is helping him through this difficult time.

“Thanks so much for all the support, it means a ton to me,” Rylan said in a text interview. “We’re still not sure how long it’ll be before I’m back in school but all the encouraging messages are really helping me through this.”

Mr. Comiskey, Rylan’s sound engineering teacher, described the relief that followed learning of Rylan’s recovery.

“When we first heard about Rylan we were really worried that we were losing someone else,” Comiskey said. “And I think everyone was relieved that he’s gonna be OK.”

These sorts of feelings — either grief at a classmate’s passing or joy at their recovery — are not new to Lane students. In the past several years, Lane has lost five students: Lochlainn Ryan, Sincere Ash, Pedro Sanchez, Becca Herbig, and Garrett Brodersen. Additionally, two more students, Greta Pearl and Rylan Wilder were seriously injured.

Though the toll taken on the school community is immeasurable and sometimes invisible — Telles described it as “a cloud” that hangs over Lane — students, faculty and parents have represented a formidable opponent to these tragedies.

From organizing a memorial for Sincere, holding a concert for Garrett, collecting donations for Pedro and signing cards for Rylan and Greta, Lane has come together after each devastation and arguably emerged a stronger and tighter-knit community, according to Ms. Escobar, Director of Culture and Climate.

“I feel like there’s a stronger sense of community and support, and I find that whenever something like this happens, we grieve together, but we also move forward together,” Escobar said.

Comiskey agrees that Lane students, parents and faculty have come together after these tragedies.

“I think students have become aware that we do have to take care of each other, and we do have to look after each other and that we do live in a dangerous city, and it doesn’t matter where in the city you are, these things can happen and it’s scary,” Comiskey said. “And whether that’s gun violence, in the case with Rylan, or in a car, as happened with Garrett, I hope that we can at least come out of this and look after each other, and feel a sense of gratitude for the time we have together.”