METAMORA, Ill. (WMBD)– Students and teachers at Metamora Township High School are grieving the loss of a fellow Redbird.
Sixteen-year-old Vidal Paulino passed away unexpectedly Monday night with heart complications. On Tuesday, the school was somber as they remembered their friend.
Vidal or as everyone called him, “V” was involved in extracurricular activities and managed the girl’s basketball team and performed in school musicals.
V’s teacher and director of the school plays, Kevin Hicks says Vidal had a special talent of lighting up the room and that he was a well-liked kid.
“I don’t ever remember him walking down a hallway or sitting in a room when he was by himself. He was one of the most social kids, but not social in the way you think; he connected kids, he connected people. There was never a stranger in the room when V showed up,” Hicks said.
Hicks says it feels like a bad dream and that everyone should wake up from the nightmare. But by coming together, they are remembering the good times they had.
“The kids, they’re helping me. The way they’re stepping through their own grief and connecting and lots of tears. Little huddles of laughter occasionally. Because we were all affected by him,” Hicks said.
Hicks says he knew Vidal mainly through school plays and that he was a special person both on stage and off.
“I’ll say this about V. I’ve known people their whole lives and they didn’t get it as this 16-year-old kid got it. Talk about one of the most outwardly focused kids I’ve ever met in my life, it was always about someone else. Always compassionate, always caring,” Hicks said.
“In my shows, he’d be one of the first ones there and one of the last to leave. He just seemed to love life,” Hicks said.
Vidal’s impact on the school is one his former teacher says will be long-lasting.
“I don’t ever want to minimize– this kid was the real deal. He threw a big creek stone in the pond of life and those ripples are going to last a long, long time. Those who were fortunate to know him; our experience in life was so much better because of V,” Hicks said.