Chandler students mourn classmate

Thursday, September 18th 2008, 6:28 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

CHANDLER, Okla. -- Students at Chandler High School are remembering one of their own following his sudden death.

Roderick Battle, 15, collapsed and died while performing in church.

Those who knew Roderick said his memory will beat on in their hearts forever. The drum line at Chandler High School will never be the same as Roderick is no longer a part of it.

"It's been hard, definitely, especially since he was our bass drum leader and he helped us with parts and stuff like that, so," fellow student and band member Trey Kennedy said.

"He brightened up every moment that was bad," fellow student and band member Alex Beloncik said. "He smiled all the time; he was just a great guy overall.

Roderick's unexpected death hit the school hard.

"It was devastating," Chandler High School Principal Wayland Kimble said. "It was one of their classmates and, I guess, in shock would be the best way to describe it."

Roderick was at Central Baptist Church, doing what he loved, playing the drums. Some said he had given the performance of a lifetime when he suddenly passed out.

"It had the pianist to stop and the different people and everybody just stood up and watched as he gave his last performance, and then he reached up and looked up in the sky to God and he fell out," Roderick's Aunt Mari Battle said.

Roderick suffered from a congenital heart disease; the same disease took his mother's life. Roderick was only a year old at the time.

"When she passed, I was kinda angry at God because she was only 25, but God left Roderick to show me how to love, and how to give love and how to receive love," Mari said.

The school has come together to help the family. They've raised money for funeral expenses, and are selling shirts so Roderick will never be forgotten.

"It's been overwhelming at times because, it's like, we didn't know Roderick was this loved," Mari said. "We knew how much we loved him, but we didn't know how much love he was spreading."

A tree will also be planted on the grounds of Chandler High in Roderick's memory.