West St. John community will rally as one

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Members of the West St. John High School community take pride in the fact they are a family.

It’s a trait easily recognizable in Edgard and surrounding neighborhoods, producing deep bonds that connect generations.

Robert Valdez knows this as well as anyone. The longtime WSJ head football coach and athletic director said as much when speaking with L’OBSERVATEUR Monday about the tragic fatal shooting of Juan Joseph.

“The kids are going through the grieving process,” he said about the loss of his fellow coach. “We’ll stick together and pick up the pieces. The kids are looking to our coaches for strength, and our coaches are looking to these kids for it. We’ll see better days ahead.”

It’s telling Valdez mentioned the adults looking to the children, because the truth is each of them are in this together.

The Rams will be one coach — one man — down when they host Varnado in Edgard Friday evening during playoff action. There is little doubt they will rally as one, each teenage player and cheerleader holding hands with each coach, parent and supporter.

It’s a scene many are counting on.

School district Superintendent Kevin George said he thought the small size of the school and the closeness of the community would go a long way in helping the school’s students and employees heal.

“Everyone knew (Joseph), everyone knew of him,” George said. “Everyone is touched by his loss.

“I knew him very well. He was a young man who was always polite … a role model you wanted your kids to aspire to be.”

The rest of the River Parishes can take solace in the fact Joseph was but one part of a larger West St. John community, one that will rise together to mourn and persevere through the loss of a bright, young leader of men.