FARMINGTON – Current high school students don’t generally know the names of people who studied there nine years before – even the most beloved of people.
But everyone knows of Jamie Beth Shible.
She was a co-captain of the Mt. Blue High School cheerleading squad and delegate to the Girls State convention – a spirited, intelligent, cheerful and genuinely kind person who, by all accounts, made a deep impression on everyone who met her. When she died suddenly on May 26, 1997, at the age of 17, of bacterial meningitis made severe because of immune system weakening medication she was taking to combat lupus, the town, along with her family, was shattered. It was the Monday after her junior/senior prom.
“She was an outstanding person, and I’m not just saying that because she was my daughter,” Jamie’s father Steve Shible said in an interview earlier this week, and went on to describe the phenomenally happy, upbeat, energetic teen she was, even when battling Lupus.
Because of what an impact she made on those around here, the girls on the Mt. Blue cheering squad still feel they know her, even though they never had the chance. And every year, one or more of them is picked to receive a scholarship in her name, given by her parents not only to honor her memory, but to make an impact on someone else’s life in her name – the kind of impact she made herself when she was at Mt. Blue.
For senior Tonya Bodah, current captain of the football and basketball cheering team and winner of 2005 NCA All-American and KVAC All-Conference second-team honors, being chosen as worthy of the Jamie Beth Shible scholarship was “a big honor.”
“It’s very special – Jamie Beth has been part of Mt. Blue cheering forever,” she added.
“Jamie Beth Shible was a person I never got to meet; yet feel I have (sic),” Bodah wrote in the scholarship application. “I hear the song “The Dance” by Garth Brooks and I feel her near – I see a sunflower and wish I’d known her.”
Steve and Julie Shible handed Bodah the first installment of the $500 scholarship Friday around noon, underneath the flowering crabapple tree planted in Jamie Beth’s name. The smiles they gave as they spoke to Bodah and her family were genuine, but didn’t reach quite to their eyes.
The scholarship doesn’t bring Jamie back, Steve Shible said Friday. It’s painful – to be at Mt. Blue without her, to see children like her who will have the chance to grow up, have families. But Shible said he prefers this kind of pain to forgetting, or to not taking action. “It’s about how proud I am of her,” he said. “In her short life,” she accomplished so much, became such a wonderful person. “I look at that, and I beam with pride. I know she had an impact and she’ll continue to, as long as (we) continue to do things in her memory.”