TEMPLE, Texas — A tenth-grade student from Connally High School died Wednesday night after battling COVID-19 for over a month, according to the Connally Independent School District.
Connally ISD announced the death of the student, identified as George Moralez, 16, in a letter sent out to parents and staff.
“It is with a heavy heart that I bear the sad news of the loss of a Connally ISD student, the son of one of our Connally Junior High staff members, and a sibling to current Connally High School students,” the school district said.
Jill Bottelberghe, the district assistant superintendent, said this has hit students especially hard since he was so well known.
"George is one of those students that everyone loved. He would go out if his way to be kind or to say hello to you and he was just involved in a lot of things," Bottelberghe said.
The teen had been a student in Connally ISD since kindergarten and was very active in extracurricular activities, including the Air Force JROTC program and football program.
Ray Matherme, the JROTC instructor, remembers him as someone with a kind heart, always smiling.
"He was one of those special kids where no matter how terrible your day was, when he came up to you on your worst day he always put a smile on your face," Matherme said.
Connally ISD is a small but tight-knit community.
"In this time of social media and people being very hateful, George was that one that we can always turn to, to show each other love and even to strangers," Matherme said.
The mother and employee of Connally ISD, Sabrina Moralez, recently shared on Facebook that George Moralez died "surrounded by family and close friends/family."
"My boy was one of a kind. I still can’t believe I won’t hear his voice, laugh, hug him, or see his smile. I know where my boy is at, he is in heaven and in no more pain. Fly baby, fly high," she wrote. "We miss our George."
"Please keep the Moralez family and all other friends and family who have recently lost a loved one in your thoughts and prayers," the school district said.
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George Moralez's death marks the fourth COVID-19 death for the school district this school year. Earlier, three Connally ISD employees died from COVID-19: David "Andy" McCormick, a junior high teacher, Natalia Chansler, a sixth-grade social studies teacher and Angela Thompson, an instructional aide.
Connally ISD is hosting a vaccination clinic on Oct. 11 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the high school.