Cardinal Stritch seniors, from left, Katie Kromenacker, Cecelia Gozdowski, and Han Zhang, sing during a memorial service for Shelby Augustyniak. The service opened with the song ‘All Are Welcome’ and closed with ‘Our God is Greater.’
A Toledo teen known for her loving spirit was memorialized Friday at her Catholic school in Oregon.
The new Shelby Augustyniak Student Services Center at Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School is a place students who may be struggling with schoolwork can go for assistance.
Shelby was born with heart defects and had undergone several surgeries since birth.
She died Sept. 1, 2013, two days before her 17th birthday.
“While she was sleeping, something happened and her heart stopped,” her father, Bob Augustyniak, said.
After her funeral, the family took about $6,000 in leftover funds that had been donated toward those expenses and gave it to the school. The school used it to expand the space dedicated for those students who, like Shelby, needed extra help. It had been essentially a small office, and is now the equivalent of a small classroom.
“It just made sense that when we were able to expand that space to do it in her name and honor,” Kevin Parkins, vice president of advancement, said.
HANDOUT. NOT BLADE PHOTO. Enlarge
Shelby, who had autism, spent a lot of time in the media center and was improving in her schoolwork. The outgoing, friendly teen was known for her positive attitude about life.
“She, above all, had an extreme love for all people. That’s what made her so special,” The Rev. Eric Schild, president of St. Kateri Catholic Schools, said. “It didn't matter who you were. Shelby loved you unconditionally. That is certainly a model for all of us.”
The expanded space allows for students to work one-on-one with the school’s intervention specialists or in groups to learn in whatever way they learn best.
“We are very dedicated to serving all of our students, especially those who may need a little extra help,” Father Schild said. “We work hard to make sure none of our students fall through the cracks. This center will be used by a good number of our students.”
Jill Augustyniak, Shelby’s mother, said her daughter was consistently happy with who she was, despite experiences with being bullied because of her differences. She loved to hug people and though she would sometimes get upset, would quickly let things roll off her shoulders.
“She was a true optimist,” Mr. Augustyniak said. “She actually considered the kids that bullied her her friends. That’s just the kind of person she was.”
Mrs. Augustyniak said Shelby would have loved the room that now bears a plaque in her honor, and that knowing how many lives Shelby touched will help the family, including her 11-year-old brother, Bryce, cope with their loss.
“Our hope is that when people come in this room and read her little motto, that kids will remember difference should be celebrated and accepted and honored, not picked on,” she said.