Boardman High School principal Tim Saxton said he believed it was important to keep students updated on the condition of classmate Shavai "Shay" Owens throughout the day on Monday.
Owens, a senior at Boardman, was one of 11 people wounded during a shooting just blocks away from Youngstown State University early Sunday morning. She remained in critical condition Monday at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown.
The 17-year-old was shot in the right ear when gunfire broke out at a house at 55 Indiana Ave., where a party was taking place. A 12th victim, Jamail Johnson, 25, a senior at YSU, was killed.
"We just didn't want the students to be wondering what's going on, to not know," Saxton said. "We're trying to keep them informed as much as possible, making updates over the PA system. It's a hard thing not knowing. Everyone's concerned about Shavai. We all miss her."
Saxton said he first met Owens a few years ago when she moved into the school district from Virginia. For two years she played on the girls basketball team, opting this year not to go out for the team.
Recently, she was a member of her school's Sweetheart Court. She was also responsible for a lot of the photography featured in the school yearbook.
"She's a very well-liked young lady, very popular, well-known young woman," Saxton said. "Her teachers miss having her in class, we miss having her at school. We're just hoping for the best and praying for her. We're here to help her, to help her family, anyway we can."
Saxton said the school has made counselors available to students and will continue providing as much support for them as possible.
"This is a real tragedy for everyone involved," Saxton said. "It's hard to believe when something like this hits so close to home. It's just very sad."
Christie Libbey, 17, a senior at Boardman, said students at her school couldn't have a better friend than Owens.
"Everybody loves her," Libbey said. "It's hard not to. When I first met her, when she first came to our school, I thought she was tough. She looked really tough. But she's the kindest, sweetest person you could ever meet. I don't know anyone who doesn't like her."
Libbey said when Owens was injured playing basketball, she got right back up and tried again. The more difficult the subject, the harder Owens studies, she said.