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Tears and Remembrances for Murdered Bergtraum Senior

Monday, September 12, 2011 - 04:26 PM

Students, staff and visitors trickled quietly out of the auditorium into the halls at Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers in Lower Manhattan on Monday morning, after an assembly in honor of Tayshana Murphy, a star basketball player who was shot dead early Sunday in the housing project where she lived. When it was over, students, staff members and visitors stood in a small clump near the school's security desk, where Tasha Taborn, a global history teacher, was dabbing her cheeks.

A student approached her, his arms open in a wide embrace. Nearby, others were also crying as they leaned over to look at a board displaying a few photos of Ms. Murphy — mostly pictures of her in a basketball uniform, smiling.

"She was a leader; I never saw someone so dedicated to education," said Ms. Taborn, 36, who tutored Ms. Murphy last year. "It just really hurts."

Ms. Murphy, an 18-year-old senior, was killed in a building stairwell in Morningside Heights in Manhattan. By Monday afternoon, no arrests had been made in the case.

Many students said they did not know about her death until Monday morning, when they saw two heaps of freshly photocopied papers stacked on the school's security desk, each with a six-paragraph description of Ms. Murphy's short life.

"The school is carrying on as best as it can," said Travis Edwards, 17, a senior from Flatbush, Brooklyn. "There's a piece of paper in the cafeteria where you could write down your memories, how you felt. It seemed to help her friends; they kept their heads up and are pulling through."

Another senior, Daquell Mcclain, 17, of Harlem, said school administrators who spoke at the assembly would continue to help students cope with the loss.

"There are a lot of guidance counselors here," he said. "They have their office set up real nice with cookies and everything for people who wanted to talk."

On an ESPN Web site, Ms. Murphy was ranked the nation's 16th–best point guard in her class, and her Bergtraum coach, Ed Grezinsky, was preparing her for success this season. He said several recruiters had Ms. Murphy on their radar.

Her dream to reach the WNBA was part of a bigger dream, he said: to help her family out of the projects.

"She already had offers from at least half a dozen schools; they were all interested in her," said Mr. Grezinsky, 59, of Brooklyn Heights. "She has a tough exterior and a soft inside. Here's a kid who had everything to live for. Then it was taken away."

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