The community is “hurting” as it mourns the loss of an East Middle School student.
Marliana Noel “Marli” Tate died Monday, Sept. 9, school officials confirmed to The News. Marli was 12 years old.
“It’s a hard day,” said Director of Schools John Carver on Wednesday.
In describing her, Carver said Marli was a “very beloved little girl.”
“She had lots of friends. She was happy go lucky,” Carver said.
Carver said school counselors have been made available to any student or adult needing some guidance on how to process the loss of a beloved student, classmate and friend.
“The counselors have been available not only at East Middle School, but also at other buildings,” Carver said. As Marli had previously attended Bel-Aire Elementary School and had friends at West Middle School, Carver said counselors were made available at those buildings as well.
“When a student dies, it triggers lots of events,” Carver said. “It triggers remembrances of other occurrences, you know? We want to make sure we’re taking steps to take care of the children and also the adults of Tullahoma City Schools.”
Carver added that counselors would also be made available “in the days to come” for anyone needing help processing the tragedy.
Marli’s death potentially involved an internet challenge gone awry, according to comments from Carver on Thursday morning.
“We don’t really know all the ins and outs about what happened, but we do know that it could have involved some kind of teenage internet challenge-type thing on YouTube or something,” he said. “It’s very tragic.”
Out of respect for the family, Carver declined to say more about the circumstances surrounding Marli’s death.
Carver added a preemptive assurance to the community that the school system’s network and internet search functions were heavily monitored and secure.
“When the children are in school, we have filtering systems in place,” he said. “We have all kinds of firewalls. Unfortunately, those don’t reach into the home.”
According to Carver, he and EMS Principal Dr. Woody Dillehay visited Marli’s father, Brandon, around Tuesday evening in order to speak with him and comfort him during this difficult time. Carver said Tate was “thankful” for the school system, as Marli had “lots of friends.”
“I think the words that keep echoing in my mind was [Brandon] saying, ‘You know, she was in the seventh grade. She was happy. She was just starting her life.’”
Erin McCullough may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.