Alex Terral, 17, remembered as dynamic spirit
A portrait of Alex Terral as a dynamic, thoughtful and witty teenager emerged Friday afternoon as his family, friends and classmates gathered to celebrate his life.Alex, 17, was 6 feet, 7 inches tall. He was left-handed, had a huge smile and an infectious laugh. Alex loved hip-hop music, had a gift for writing, liked to watch football and loved to play basketball, even though his coach laughed about him being frequently late for practice.Alex died last Monday, several days after a one-car accident on Highway 82 east of Aspen. Around 500 residents met at the home of Lennie “Boogie” Weinglass on McLain Flats Road to share stories about the teenager.”The word I think of when I think of Alex is ‘very,'” said Dr. Bill Mitchell, the Terral family’s pediatrician. “Alex wasn’t just smart, he was very smart. He wasn’t just tall, he was very tall. He was very good at athletics, and his smile was very big. He had a very special soul.”Terral’s basketball jersey, No. 4, was retired by his teammates at the memorial, as was his jersey from the Skiers football team. On the property and in a large tent, red and black abounded – the colors of the Skiers.Aspen High School basketball coach Steve Ketchum said a scholarship program in honor of Alex will be started this summer. One boy and one girl annually will each receive a scholarship from the proceeds of the Aspen Basketball Academy.Several of Alex’s former teachers shared their memories of a student they remember as thoughtful, bright and destined for great things. Andy Popinchalk, who could not attend the memorial, sent Susan and Tim Terral a letter about the loss of their son that was read by Reilly Gallagher. Alex liked the poetry of Robert Frost, and once encouraged his fellow classmates to give the poetry a chance.”He had an astute, analytical mind, and brought a liveliness and energy to his work,” Popinchalk wrote. “He struggled with the idea of being a top student, but [he came to] the acceptance of using his mind in his writing skills.”He was a bright ripple in the fragile pond of our lives.””He was bigger than life – his arms, his lips, his smile, his intellect and his big heart,” said his former teacher and friend, Chris Bonadies. “He had a comical lankiness. He made everyone smile when he went to prom in a top hat and tails. He worked hard at school, he struggled, and he used to get frustrated but he never gave in.”Kellie Schenck, Alex’s fifth-grade teacher, remembered taking Alex to lunch at Boogie’s and getting a 10-minute lesson from him about what made Boogie’s macaroni and cheese the best ever. It was enough to convince her that Alex could be a lawyer, a politician – maybe the next U.S. president.”When he was done eating he sat back and said, ‘Mrs. S., life is good, but life is better with mac and cheese,” she said.Alex loved to eat, and one of his closest friends, Dave Porter, had quirky memories about completing an eating challenge at Johnny McGuire’s in Aspen, with disastrous gastronomic results.”He lived life to the fullest,” Porter said. “I never had a better friend than Alex.”Alex liked to write, and some of his friends read things he had written about himself. Friend and basketball teammate Tyler Hollenbach read a list of things that Alex wrote in eighth grade about what he wanted to do during his life: finish high school, play college basketball, get married and have kids, climb Mount Kilimanjaro. He also wanted to go to Harvard, coach kids in sports, be a columnist for Sports Illustrated and a personality on ESPN’s SportsCenter and give money to good causes.”I have no doubt he would have gotten these things done if he was given enough time,” Hollenbach said. “He knew that life was meant to be enjoyed and cherished. Everyone he met is a better person for it.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Aspen School District’s younger students will return to class next week, but that’s not the case for those in the seventh through 12th grade, who will continue to take courses from home.