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Simon honored by school and students

Faith Deevers and Orbiter staff

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At the inaugural football game August 25, Simon’s school family, the SHS Marching Rockets, played their traditional number, “The Horse.” Following the infamous drum break, which highlights the percussion section, senior Antonio-Jared Simon had been a part of for seven years, and was supposed to lead his senior year, they cut to silence.

Each band member took off his and her hat, held them over their hearts, and revealed their wearing of a token for their fallen friend: a white bandana. Members then sang the alma mater. And after the heartbreaking sound of 100 people singing for a lost loved one, “The Horse,” picked back up in an upbeat fashion.

“Having to conduct while they’re singing and playing the alma mater,” band director Mason Smith said, “was me fighting the entire time, keeping a straight face, to get the music part out across, without breaking down.”
Simon passed away unexpectedly August 14. Simon was cared for by many but his support group mainly consisted of a mourning band, who lost its leader and friend.

For some, the beginning of a school year is a chance to move on from the hardships of the summer, but students of Streetsboro High School started the year on a somber note.

From freshman through the summer before his senior year, Simon has remained memorable to the students and teachers he has touched, such as, English teacher, Maralee Lelio.

“AJ had a narwhal song; he knew I hated narwhals,” said Lellio. “He would come in singing this narwhal song and I would pretend to get mad. It was the joke that we had. He would play it in the hallways just to aggravate me, and I thought it was hilarious.”

Classmates say Simon was a person they could count on, a kid who loved to play music. Students and teachers can attest to his ability to both get on everyone’s nerves, but also make them laugh more than anyone else this and many other attributes made him one of the most well known people in the high school.

“He was reckless, but regardless, he still cared about you,” said senior bandmate Rana Rzyczycki.

“[He was] always there to make people laugh, no matter what kind of day they were having,” junior Sam Setters, Simon’s ex-girlfriend said. She also described him as “a troublemaker, but with a good heart.”

A bubbly personality, Simon was a person the whole s

chool would know simply from the words, bandana, speaker or even drums.

“You couldn’t see AJ without a bandana,” senior Benny Shaffer said. “It was rare if he didn’t have one.”
Close friend and junior, Lily Basar, said, “He was a funny guy, so energetic and lively…somebody that really lived his life to the fullest…super loving and super caring to everyone.”

Following the Friday game, an memorial service was held for Simon at Hope Community Chapel. Members of the band traveled to the church and played the fight song and drum cadence, “Florida,” a cadence Shaffer said Simon was particularly fond of.

The cadence, well known by st

udents and band members alike, highlights the percussion section, upperclassmen in particular. Simon’s senior year would have been the chance for him to play the cadence near every game as opposed to few times his freshman year.

“The first football game freshman year, we were really, really late,” Shaffer recalled. “We both get the bass drums out of my mom’s car, and we’re running to the old school. I’m running and I see AJ take off. He jumps and puts his foot straight into the storm drain, and hits the curb, slides about three feet, rolls over his bass drum, gets up, and fixes his glasses and hat, and just keeps running. The whole time, my mom and I are laughing and asking if he’s OK, and he just keeps running.”

Streetsboro will have to keep running as well, despite the loss of friend, AJ.

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Simon honored by school and students