By: The Focus Leadership Team, Max Marinelli, Natalie Neuhaus, and Sophia David
At a moment when our entire community is at a loss for words, we at Focus spoke with Dr. Deb Skapik, Mr. Padraig Barry, and Daniel Dabagian (‘24) to try to scratch the surface of the incalculable ways Myles Roche graced Friends’ Central School with his presence. Before reading any further, please take a moment to hold Myles, his brother Riley, his parents, and the rest of his loved ones in the light.
Daniel Dabagian (‘24) was one of Myles’s friends at our school, and we appreciate his speaking with us. Though grappling with an incredibly difficult reality, Daniel’s bond with Myles was evident from our conversation. Whether on the soccer pitch or over computer games, Myles created and held strong, close friendships with his peers. Daniel told us that “Myles’ presence was always pleasant,” and “there was never a dull moment when you were with him.” Myles consistently brightened his friends’ lives, bringing a light-hearted attitude to any situation, even if there was little to be light hearted about. “He always knew what to say,” Daniel informed us, “finding the right time to make a good joke.” Daniel made it clear that Myles brought a sincere dedication to all of his endeavors, “always working very hard on the soccer field, asking to go back in even when he looked like the most exhausted person ever.” He was goal driven, whether seeking the next goal on the field or attaining a rare item on the videogame Terraria. Myles possessed a rare degree of integrity and accountability, making amends and admitting his mistakes with effortless sincerity. Daniel will remember Myles for “all of the joy he brought to everyone in his life.” Friends of Myles will miss him dearly but be forever grateful for his loyalty and the fun memories he leaves behind.
Dr. Deborah Skapik, the mother of Lyle Goldader, one of Myles’ friends since first grade, provided a parental perspective on who the wonderful young man was. When asked about how she would describe Myles, Dr. Skapik shared that “affable is the first word that comes to mind.” She quickly added further descriptors such as “personable, sweet, and a good loyal friend.” Myles was extremely close with his friends, and he was “the heart and soul of his friend group.” This isn’t surprising considering the deep relationships he formed with his friends through gentle, kind-hearted teasing: “the more the boys made fun of each other, the more they loved each other.” Myles was a young man of many interests—soccer, heritage, gaming, and even boxing—and he was constantly trying to engage his friends in fun soccer- or boxing-themed activities whenever possible. Friends of Myles looked up to him, mimicking his Arsenal fandom by purchasing matching jerseys. Myles had rubbed off on all around him, including Dr. Skapik, who learned from Myles to “always let your friends know you’re concerned about them, to be affectionate with them, and to be gentle and kind with them.” Dr. Skapik is immeasurably grateful for the impact Myles had on Lyle. In a world where imitation is the sincerest form of admiration, “Lyle [and assuredly many of Myles’ other friends] wanted to be like Myles.” True friends like Myles come few and far between, and his kinship has left an irreversible impression on all who were lucky enough to know him.
Lastly, we spoke with Mr. Barry, one of Myles’ former teachers, coaches, and fellow Irishman. Mr. Barry expressed that Myles “had a great heart and a great soul,” which was immediately obvious when he first met Myles in his sixth-grade science class. Myles held an impressive depth of knowledge on a variety of subjects, both in and out of class, and his expression would change to that of animated excitement whenever speaking about his interests. As exhibited through his continued relationship with Mr. Barry, even up to this year when he transitioned to the Upper School, Myles made long-lasting connections with a variety of different people. He left people wanting to spend as much time with him as possible. “Myles always was excited to tell you about something,” Mr. Barry reflected. He found it to be equally entertaining and remarkable for a kid Myles’ age to be willing to interact with kids and adults in the capacity he did. “It was obvious, when you spoke to Myles, that he was incredibly invested and interested in his heritage,” Mr. Barry explained, “but he also had a wide variety of interests and passions.” Myles brought passion into numerous avenues of life, including into his friendships. “You could tell he wanted his friends to do well,” Mr. Barry continued; it comes as no surprise, knowing this, that Myles maintained genuine friendships with his peers from his earliest school days through his transition to the Upper School. Middle and high school tends to bear witness to a splitting of friend groups, but thanks to Myles’ dedication to all of his friends, his group of friends only grew tighter and stronger. Mr. Barry recalled that “he wanted you to have fun when you were with him,” and he succeeded in making those around him happy. Perhaps the most unusually brilliant quality of Myles was his ability to avoid taking himself too seriously, a tendency starkly uncharacteristic of middle- and high-school kids: “Myles could laugh at himself.” Mr. Barry would have loved to have had a conversation with Myles about the short-lived European Super League (ESL), especially because of Arsenal’s involvement in it. “He came to mind immediately when I heard the news,” Mr. Barry remarked, exemplifying the lasting influence that Myles left on those he was close with. Myles will be missed by his friends and family on both sides of the Atlantic but, as Mr. Barry enlightened us, Irish funerals are a celebration of life, so let us adopt that sentiment and continuously celebrate the sensational life that Myles Roche led.
We at Focus extend a great thanks to all of the above interviewees and the rest of those who have helped to honor Myles Roche’s memory over the past couple of weeks. Let us all try to hold the invaluable memories of Myles with us throughout our daily lives, showing others the same passion, loyalty, friendship, and kindness that Myles did.
Support Services is offering a loss and bereavement support group for all students who experienced loss over this past year. If you’d like more information about this support group (or other resources to help you deal with loss and bereavement), please contact Heather Tomes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Link to the slideshow in honor of Myles: https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/nJOLJtyR/rememberingmyles