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A Message from Board President Stanley Neron

Yesterday, late afternoon, shortly before 5 p.m., Michael Da'shon Eargle, a young man of 28 years who attended Elizabeth Public Schools lost his life at the hands of gun violence. This senseless act of violence happened in broad daylight, at a time when children from our schools were walking home. Our children and our community members are not expendable. How many young lives do we have to lose to recognize our conflicts can be resolved with the voice of reason before responding with the hands of violence?

To the members of our community, young and old… conflicts that begin with a verbal confrontation should end verbally. Words that attempt to hurt or harm are best met by words that attempt to heal. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said in a sermon he had written while in jail for non-violent protest, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Our community must come together in the spirit of love to drive away the darkness of violence. Our city cannot tolerate violence and we cannot afford to lose another young person today who is so critical to our prominence tomorrow.

Michael showed his promise as a leader while at Elizabeth High School, being named a captain of the 2006 Minutemen varsity football team. On the chilly evening of December 1, 2006, a state championship up for grabs, Michael seized the moment and helped lead his team back from a 9-0 fourth quarter deficit. With 2:51 seconds left in the game, he was able to outrun the Phillipsburg defense on his way to a 56-yard touchdown and Elizabeth Athletics immortality. An exceptional athlete, he used his football talent as his platform to receive a college education at Lackawanna (Pa.) College and Purdue.

He reached the pinnacle of high school football by scoring the game-winning touchdown to help bring Elizabeth the North 2, Group 4 State Championship in 2006; received an athletic scholarship to play football for Purdue University and graduated with a sociology degree in 2012; and returned to our city as a successful young man ready to have a positive impact on the community in which he grew up.

As in the case with Michael, gun violence continues to rob communities throughout this nation of their youth, their promise and their future. Our thoughts and prayers to Michael’s family and friends. God Bless each of them and our entire community at large.

On behalf of the Elizabeth Board of Education we send our prayers and condolences to the family.