#Jerseys4Jackson: Students honor fellow classmates who are relatives of Waukesha parade victim

Local News

Toppled chairs line W. Main St. in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after an SUV drove into a parade of Christmas marchers Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – For kids, what happened in Waukesha can be difficult to understand. At McAuliffe Elementary School they know first-hand the loss. Two students are cousins of Jackson Sparks, the youngest victim in the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy.

“I had asked the student if he wanted to talk about what happened, and he said ‘yes,'” said Heidi Herrala, the 5th Grade teacher to one of the boys.

It was that conversation that teachers realized something had to be done.

“It did open up a lot of communication about kids that have lost loved ones, especially recently,” Herrala explained.

One of Jackson’s favorite things to do was to play baseball. And that is where the idea was born. A social media post sparked #Jerseys4Jackson.

“The minute they heard about the jerseys my class said let’s do it,” said Christy Bertschinger, a 2nd-grade teacher at the school, who also has one of Sparks’ cousins in her class.

On Friday, the entire school came together to honor the boy and his family. Classmates coming together for two of their own.

“It’s a very sad time and our class would like to support him,” a second-grader told Local 5. Another said, “It made them feel good that I can do something to make them feel better.” A 5th grader told us there was even a student on Zoom who was taking part by also wearing a jersey.

The collective agreement to wear jerseys is teaching kids about compassion at a very young age.

“It’s bittersweet in a way just to see how much the community has come together to support the family,” said Herrala. “Especially the children. Sometimes they have a hard time connecting with something like that.”

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