Northern sophomore mourned, was on ‘comeback trail’ at school

Dec. 12, 2012 @ 08:04 PM

Grief counseling teams were in place Wednesday at Northern Vance High School after a 16-year-old sophomore was shot to death the night before in a Henderson neighborhood.

Deonte Judkins was described by varsity football head coach Eric Watkins as well-liked student by others, and a big guy on a comeback trail in the sport of football. The coach said Judkins had received a good report card last week and was expected to rejoin the football team during workouts in January.

“We talked a lot. He was a wonderful person, just one of those great kids,” Watkins said. “He was friendly with everybody, and everybody liked him.”

Watkins said he was left stunned Tuesday when he heard the news.

“He was such a young person to lose his life like that,” Watkins said. “It is always tragic for that to happen. It is a sad situation.”

Judkins was a member of the football team at the beginning of the season but was not with the team at season’s end. Watkins said the defensive tackle was applying himself to weight training disciplines and other signs of good character.

“He was doing great with grades,” Watkins said. “He was doing real well, and he was looking forward to off-season football in January.”

Jeremy Crawford, an assistant principal at Northern, said the school was pressing forward with a school day Wednesday that was slowed by the realization that the student body had lost one of their own.

“There is very limited movement,” Crawford said of the student body. “We are trying to go class to class to talk with them right now.”

Superintendent Ronald Gregory was at the school Wednesday. Terri Hedrick, the public information officer for the school system, declined to comment on behalf of the school system.

“I can not provide you with any other information about him, especially without the consent of the family,” Hedrick said.

Michael Applewhite, principal at Northern, said his focus was on student needs.

“I am not going to talk about the student,” Applewhite said. “We have only been dealing with students. I have been with students all day.”

School leaders said the county had mobilized counselors to Northern Vance from across the county as part of the response team.

Hedrick said a “critical response team” was on location Wednesday for counseling purposes, a preplanned response to situations involving students and unexpected death.

“We have school counselors from across the county, as many as could be spared,” Hedrick said. “I know they will be there again tomorrow.”

Hedrick said there were no changes to extra-curricular school activities or other scheduled routines.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.