CHICAGO (CBS) — The Simeon High School football team played against Wendell Phillips High School without fans in the stands on Saturday, as Chicago Public Schools officials sought to keep people safe after two Simeon students were killed in separate shootings this week.
The Simeon Wolverines lost their first matchup after tragedy hit the school on Tuesday, but many people still came out to show support, even though they weren’t allowed in the bleachers.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Showers Followed By A Sunny Weekend
Simeon lost to Wendell Phillips High School by two points, falling in the final seconds of the game at Gately Stadium. But the true win was seeing the love the students got after a rough week.
The bleachers empty, security guards planted inside and outside the stadium, with no spectators allowed in Gately Stadium in Roseland.
But for mother Keshia Spraggins, missing her Simeon High son Cameron play was not an option.
“This is his third year playing at Simeon,” she said as she and other parents watched from outside the gates. “There’s nothing like being right here, and for the kids to hear our voices.”
It was a time when a cheer from behind a fence can lift spirits during a week so hard for many teens, like Spraggins’ 16-year-old son.
“I think he’s persevering, he’s pushing his way through,” she said.
A tragedy at Simeon this week led to the Chicago Public Schools banning fans inside for safety reasons.
Two students – Jamari Williams and Kentrell McNeal – were shot and killed within hours of each other in separate attacks off campus on Tuesday.
Threats were made against the school soon after.READ MORE: CBS 2's Got Your Ticket: The Bard & The Beatles
Students, teachers, and parents all have been affected by the tragedy.
“I think I’m still a bit more traumatized than he is, but it’s getting better with the support of my football family,” Spraggins said.
Jamari and Kentrell both were honored on the field of Saturday’s game, and earlier in the day at a special balloon release at Simeon for the two 15-year-olds.
Pastors and Simeon alumni organized the morning prayer vigil.
“We had one of the young men’s moms there, and it was emotional talking to her, having a conversation with her, and just as she prepares to bury her son,” alum Selena King said.
The senseless and unsolved violence sparked more conversations about the need for mentors and constructive activities for youth.
“As long as we’re watching over and protecting them, we hope that this tragedy can be avoided,” said Tyrone Muhammad, a founder of the group Ex-Cons for Community Social Change. “Behavior modification starts with a job, starts with linking them up with guys like this, who can actually mentor them and get them over the hump.”
Simeon parents said it’s been a traumatic week for their kids, but they hope students can move forward.
“It is a great place, a great learning institution, and this was an isolated incident. It does not define Simeon, it does not define the children, as you can see out here today. Their classmates are out here supporting them in everything,” Spraggins said.MORE NEWS: City Hall, Chicago FOP File Dueling Lawsuits In Heated Standoff Over Vaccine Mandate
Along with CPS’s safety measures at schools, Simeon alumni are working to get trauma counseling for students and teachers as well.