West Orange remembers former student during Suicide Prevention Month

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — A serenity bench honoring the memory of Zach Massader was dedicated in a brief ceremony at the senior courtyard of West Orange High School on Sept. 24. Massader was a former student who committed suicide in 2018. The effort was spearheaded by Councilwoman Tammy Williams working closely with Abdel and Lauren Massader to honor the memory of their only child. Williams is the founder of the West Orange (stop) Suicide Advocacy Coalition, whose mission is to prevent suicide by promoting awareness. In her brief remarks during the ceremony, Williams said that the more the topic is discussed, the easier it becomes for those who need help to ask for it.

WOHS Principal Hayden Moore expressed his gratitude for the bench, which creates a peaceful place for meaningful self-reflection and student interaction. Brief remarks by Mayor Robert Parisi and Superintendent of Schools Scott Cascone underscored the importance of recognizing suicide as a preventable mental health issue. 

The Massaders, with help from Moore and Williams, unveiled the bench to the public while holding a photograph of their son.

Also in attendance were Council President Cindy Matute-Brown, Councilwoman Susan McCartney, Board of Education President Terry Trigg-Scales, BOE member Melinda Huerta and several WOHS faculty members.

Photos Courtesy of Joseph Fagan