MILTON, Ga. — The Cambridge High School community was in shock Monday, Dec. 16, after learning of the suicide of one of their own.
Reagan Austin Beene was a popular 14-year-old freshman, described as funny and sensitive by family and friends.
Beene’s friends called him a prankster, who loved to listen to country music, especially Carrie Underwood and Toby Keith. He loved the outdoors, whether it was tubing at the lakes near his grandparents Texas home, playing golf or fishing and hunting.
“He was funny, always smiling, always happy,” said his mother, Britt Beene.
Reagan Beene, who was born in Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago, Ill., died Saturday, Dec. 14.
This was a day after Milton Police charged the teenager along with a dozen of his friends with underage drinking at a house party in Crooked Creek.
The Beene family moved to Milton in 2005.
Reagan, whose freshman football jersey was No. 15, also played middie for the Cambridge High School lacrosse team.
When it came to television, he loved to watch “Duck Dynasty.”
His mother recalled “That and the Dallas Cowboys Football,” Britt said. “The Texas Longhorns were second.
“Stonecreek Church has been a huge influence on his life and he had just gotten baptized a couple of weeks ago,” his mother said. “He touched so many lives.”
Mourning students came to school Monday to a makeshift memorial on the school’s front lawn and remembered Reagan on and off campus this week. The memorial at the school included flowers and posters with messages for their classmate.
Susan Hale, Fulton County Schools spokeswoman, said the school responded to the news by bringing in grief counselors and a crisis team.
“We are trying to be supportive of staff and students,” Hale said.
Friends fondly recalled Beene.
“He was like a little brother to me,” said Croix Martini, 16, who also plays on the lacrosse team. “He was really popular and had a lot of friends.”
Students at Cambridge High are “shocked,” said Carson Smith, 17.
As the lacrosse season begins in late January and early February, students plan to dedicate the season to Beene.
“We are writing ‘RB’ on our helmets,” said Smith.
In the morning of Dec. 16, half of the student population at Cambridge High walked to Stonecreek Church and many checked out after that.
“It’s a day of remembrance and grief,” Smith said, after checking out of school and spending Monday afternoon at Alpharetta North Park.
Smith and other members of the school’s lacrosse team said they needed to “blow off some steam.”
Cambridge Principal Ed Spurka sent word out to parents over the weekend about the loss.
“We express our deepest sympathy to the Beene family; our thoughts and prayers are with them in this time of grief,” he wrote. “Tonight and in the coming days, I encourage you to talk to your children about their feelings and experiences and encourage them to seek support from our counseling staff if appropriate.”
Social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were filled with many posted remembrances and sympathy to the family.
“The biggest smiles hold the most pain, and he had one hell of a smile. RIP Reagan Beene,” tweeted fellow Cambridge student Remy Johnston.
Beene is survived by his parents, Jeffry A. Beene and Britt Beene; older sisters, Anderson “Ace,” 20, Mallory, 17, and younger brother, Travis, a seventh grader at Hopewell Middle School.
A memorial service was held Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 3 p.m. at Stonecreek Church.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to Stonecreek Church, 13540 Ga. 9 N., Milton, Ga. 30004 in the name of “Reagan Austin Beene.”