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Community dealing with loss

Sisters Sarah Fries and Gloria Ybarra comfort each other Friday night at the candlelight memorial vigil at Elmwood Park in honor of West Fargo High School students sophomore Tessa Miller, junior Ian Alves and senior Levi Schulz. David Samson / Forum Communications Co.1 / 5
Tessa Miller, 16.2 / 5
Ian Alves, 16.3 / 5
Levi Schulz, 17.4 / 5
West Fargo High School students gather Friday night for a candlelight vigil at Elmwood Park to remember and honor their classmates, sophomore Tessa Miller, junior Ian Alves and senior Levi Schulz, who died this week. David Samson / Forum Communications Co.5 / 5

The West Fargo school district, and the community as a whole, was struck with overwhelming tragedies late last week, as the West Fargo High School lost three members of its student body.

Sophomore Tessa Miller passed away unexpectedly Thursday morning at Essentia Hospital in Fargo.

The following morning, junior Ian Alves died at 8:45 Sanford Health in Fargo, after an 18-month battle with two forms of terminal cancer.

Both Miller and Alves were 16 years old.

Also on Friday, 18-year-old senior Levi Schulz died of injuries he suffered in a vehicle accident.

According to Assistant West Fargo Police Chief Mike Reitan, Schulz, who lived in Horace, was walking across Sheyenne Street near the 23rd Ave. S. intersection to his car, which had a flat tire, when he was struck by a southbound pickup. It was reported around 3 p.m. that Schulz had passed away.

Miller and Schulz were both organ donors.

A candlelight vigil was held at Elmwood Park on Friday night in honor of these three students. Hundreds of students, staff and community members were in attendance.

According to District Community Relations Coordinator Heather Konschak, the high school's crisis response team and counseling staff were available for students and staff on Friday and continue to be available this week.

"We are working to have some level of support every day this week, as the close groups of friends of the three students return to school, and as we approach prayer services and funerals for Tessa, Levi and Ian," Konschak said.

The last time tragedy like this occurred at West Fargo High School came just over a year ago, when 17-year-old Eleni Wilson suffered a brain aneurysm during rehearsals for a school play and passed away on October 26, 2011.

"It will be extremely important for parents to spend time communicating with their children," Konschak said in a press release. "We would like to encourage parents to acknowledge the intensity of the losses their child has experienced this week."

A funeral service for Alves will be held today at 1 p.m. in First Presbyterian Church, Fargo, and for Miller tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Faith Lutheran Church in West Fargo and for Schulz tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Hope Lutheran Church in Fargo.