Two young adults with ambitions. Two who led. Two who inspired. Two with futures as bright as their smiles.
Jaquayla Young and Jarvis Alexander were remembered by friends and family in the week after their deaths as being poised for accomplishment.
The two were killed Sept. 19 in a mass shooting on Pennsylvania Avenue. Fourteen others were wounded.
“The child did everything right,” said Shaun Nelms, superintendent of East High School, said of Jaquayla Young, Class of 2019. “Great student. Great athlete, great friend, great mentor. To have her life taken so tragically … it’s not fair.”
At University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men, Jarvis Alexander grew into a scholar athlete who was an example to teammates and classmates. “He walked his talk,” said Walter Larkin Jr., the chief executive officer.
As those who knew Jaquayla Young and Jarvis Alexander gathered publicly and privately over the past few days, they shared remembrances from of each:
She grew up in First Genesis Baptist Church, said the Rev. Dr. Frederick Johnson at a news conference a few days after her death.
“We are fortunate in the fact that … we have had Jaquayla and her family for many years.”
She participated in community outreach programs such as Straight from the Heart Ministry, where she and her mother volunteered on a regular basis. “That’s indicative of the type of person she was.”
She also was part of the dance ministry, and Johnson recalled her energetic performances.
“We are grateful for the fact that we had 19 years of her life that has been spent here at First Genesis,” Johnson said.
He described Jaquayla Young as someone who inspired others and who followed her ambitions. She was attending Monroe Community College with plans to be an educator.
“We assumed she was moving on to do great things,” said Marlene Blocker, principal of East Upper School. “Here is a life cut short that could have contributed so much to our world.”
Jaquayla touched many lives, Blocker said. “I think the greatest tribute is to continue to help one another rise to the level she was at. She was truly a gem.”
James Alexander said his son had a smile that drew people to him.
“A lot of people looked up to Jarvis. He always had that kind of energy. There was always something positive when you were in contact with Jarvis.”
Jarvis Alexander was a high school football and track star, and he wanted to pursue track in college and beyond. But he also had his eye on the business world. His father said he was studying business management and one day he wanted to be his own boss. He father said he was developing his entrepreneurial skills in high school by buying shoes online, adding his own artwork and then reselling them.
Larkin said Jarvis Alexander was a natural athlete who turned himself into a scholar. They talked about how he could work his way up to Division 1.
“He was hungry for it,” Larkin said. “You knew this young man was going to be good because he listens, he takes advice.
“ … You know he was a good student, a good person, he had a full life ahead,” Larkin said. “I’m saddened that we’re not going to be able to see how great he was going to be.”
Jarvis Alexander was the second member of the UPrep family to die by gun violence in September. Darius Dillard was killed earlier in the month. A few years ago, he and his cousin had saved a family from a house fire.
“He will always be a hero,” Larkin said.
He said UPrep wants to remember both students. He said the construction class is building a bench that will go at the front office and have plaques to each.
Alexander said he also is exploring having a mural in the city dedicated to his son.
“I want no one else to feel this pain, but I do want them to sympathize with me and my family. … As a family, we didn’t just lose him. The world lost him because he was going to provide a lot of service to the world. … “When we pay tribute, I want it to be meaningful.”