Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Students' pay tribute to classmate

Students' camo honors friend killed in accidental shooting

To someone outside the tiny community of Allentown, the way Central High School's student body expressed its grief and love for a fellow classmate might have seemed unusual.

But not if you knew Cody Smith, the affable 16-year-old with a heart of gold who lost his life Thursday in a tragic shooting accident.

Central — a school of 300 students in north Santa Rosa County — was a sea of camouflage on Tuesday. Pants, hats, T-shirts ... you name it.

It was a tribute to Cody, whose love for hunting and fishing — and tendency to wear camouflage — were as well known as his good humor and concern.

"He was pretty much everything anyone could ask for in a friend," fishing buddy Eddie Falzon, 16, said a few hours before Cody's funeral Tuesday afternoon.

Cody was accidentally shot to death by a friend while they played at Cody's home with a .44-caliber pistol they believed was unloaded. An investigation continues, but no charges have been filed against the friend, whom law enforcement officials have not identified because of his age.

Principal Kenny Owens said students and teachers are collecting money to aid Cody's family with funeral costs.

"The kids loved Cody," he said.

Students have placed notes to Cody's family inside a black box on a tribute table in one of the school's hallways.

"He could make any class fun," said Travis Hatfield, 15. "You never had a boring day with Cody in your class."

Cody was a joy in Courtney Madora's Algebra I class.

"He was one of the most intelligent students I've had at Central High," she said. "He was a great help to struggling students."

On his last day in Farica King's elective reading class, Cody enjoyed the Super Bowl Blitz game the class was playing to prepare for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. He was a fan of the New York Giants, who pulled off an upset to win Sunday's Super Bowl.

"Cody really enjoyed school that day," she said. "Every time the kids have started to cry, we talk about that day. A lot of us will hang on to that memory for a long time."

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