Student drowns during 'Senior Skip Day'

Wednesday, May 28th 2008, 9:45 pm
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

A high school senior died yesterday while swimming in Arcadia Lake during an unofficial "Senior Skip Day" from U.S. Grant High School.

The unofficial holiday is a tradition the school's administration strongly discourages.

"Out of the 1600 students, we had probably about 600," said sophomore Ronnie Simpson.

Of those that skipped was 17-year-old Leonardo Avila, who died in the lake during his last day of school.

Oklahoma City Public Schools spokeswoman Kathleen Kennedy said the administration frowns upon the popular tradition.

"We expect students to show up for class every day," Kennedy said. "We don't promote skipping school, even on the last day of school."

His body was found about four hours after he jumped from a raft into the lake and attempted to swim back to shore. Avila was not wearing a life jacket.

"Unfortunately, these type of things happen," said Tim Wheeler of the Edmond Police Department. "It's a tragic event that we really hate to see happen. We hope the viewers out there will think about this and encourage other family members to wear that life vest and be careful."

The district will have counselors available for students on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at U.S. Grant High School.