GOSHEN — Goshen Middle School students are honoring a classmate who died this summer, participating in a number of programs to celebrate his memory.  

Malachi Southern, 12, of Goshen, died June 17 following a dirt biking crash where he collided with an SUV near Colonial Manor in Goshen.

According to his obituary, Southern died at the hospital and donated his organs, saving the lives of three adults, and became the first child ever to have the honor walk at the South Bend hospital.

Still, his family and students and staff at his school had a hard time coping with the loss.

“School wasn’t in session so a lot of our students didn’t get to process that loss,” assistant principal Lisa Herschberger said. “We got together a group of his closer friends who wanted to acknowledge his loss but also celebrate him.”

About 25 students, friends of Southern, spent a day created a memory quilt for his mom.

“It meant a lot to her, but it also meant a lot to our students to have something they could do to honor Malachi.”

Malachi’s name was added to a bench memorializing other students who had died.

“All the students go past that spot in the lobby many times a day, or when they’re waiting to be picked up, they can sit there and acknowledge a friend or remember someone that they’ve lost,” Herschberger said. “It gets used every day. Sometimes by staff, sometimes by parents. It’s just a nice visual reminder that those students are still part of who we are as a school community.”

The slate gray bench features the names of four children who died while attending Goshen Middle School, with the quote, “There’s a piece of my heart that will smile when I remember you.”

“The students have done a great job of facing the loss,” Herschberger said. “It’s obvious Malachi meant a lot to a lot of people. He should have returned to us this year as a seventh-grader and we didn’t want to let that go without acknowledging that loss.”

The bench is outside the main office just inside the front entrance of the school.

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