Sophomore Anthony (Tony) Lehrer died on April 4 due to a respiratory condition that had been diagnosed prior to his death.
The community mourns the loss of Lehrer, who was an exceptional student, friend and an inquisitive young man who recognized the challenges that he faced due to his medical condition, cerebral palsy, but did not let it define who he was.
“He was such a bright boy,” senior Rachel Gross, an aide in the school community based (SCB) department said. “He didn’t let his disabilities hold him back. He participated in all activities and was eager to learn. He was always so positive and when I worked with him, I got such a good feeling when I could see the light go off in his head when he understood something.”
According to his teachers, although Lehrer was visually impaired and could not speak, he was curious about the world around him.
“We would often see him turning around and checking out all of his friends to see what they were doing,” SCB teacher Mary Gorie said. “And to communicate he would lift his hand to press a speech switch to respond to his friends and teachers. When Tony did this we all listened. Regardless of his limitations, Tony always did his best to learn and communicate.”
Lehrer was also known for his determination. Although he was in a wheelchair most of the day, he could be found in a specially designed walker during Steven McMahon’s PE class. “Of all of the students in walkers, he was by far the most active and self-determined,” senior Josh Friedman, another aide, recalls. “He needed no encouragement to start moving. He was on the move the moment he entered the gym. His passing was a shock to all of us. I honestly still can’t really comprehend the unfortunate reality.”
When speaking to Lehrer’s friends and teachers, a common theme surfaced: his gentle spirit and bright smile.
Lehrer had a great and gentle spirit and an infectious smile,” the SCB department said in an internal memo. “And when he smiled, he lit up the room.”
The SEB department feels the pain of death and has erected a memorial of pictures, drawings and messages on his locker #1229 and outside of classroom 167. Messages from his friends, such as ‘you are the sunshine of our lives’ highlight how many lives Lehrer touched.
His death leaves a void in the lives of his teachers and friends who were a part of his life, as well as in the lives of his father, mother and younger twin sisters who he leaves behind.
“He was a beacon of hope,” Friedman said. “He always had this positive expression on his face that could fill a room with happiness. Tony was and continues to be loved by all of us. He truly had a heart of gold. He was an incredible peer, friend, student and patriot. Tony will be missed.”
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