CCA community helps raise money for students who died in fire
GoFundMe account set up by CCA raises more than $3,500 for family.
Erik DuPree’s story will be remembered as one of perseverance.
He entered Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA) in 2016 having to repeat eighth grade. He ended up becoming a successful student, earning all A grades except for one B.
“He turned things around and found out how to be successful,” said Adam Fraser, CCA elementary school principal.
Erik’s young life was cut far too short the evening of Oct. 25, when the 16-year-old and his half-brother, Devon Major, 12, were killed in a fire at the family’s home in Laflin, Luzerne County. Another half-brother, 7-year-old Ezekiel Major, was transported to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He died Oct. 28.
Fraser received the news about the three CCA students during an Oct. 26 phone call from the boys’ mother, Susan Major. The next morning, Fraser was in Philadelphia to offer support to Susan and her family. While Fraser was in Philadelphia, CCA staff coordinated efforts to help the family. Guidance counselor Jodie Zangaro created a GoFundMe account, which has raised more than $3,500.
“It reminded me of how rare CCA is,” Fraser said about the school’s efforts. “It’s not because of the curriculum or the cyber school aspect. You can’t say you’re a family or a family centered organization without being able to step up. Time after time, they’ve done just that.”
The three brothers were “extremely loyal, affectionate and loving” to their mother, Fraser said. This was remembered during a Nov. 25 memorial service. Fraser also spoke at the service.
He told Susan she would always be part of the CCA family.
“All three of them were hardworking and had no problems reaching out to their teachers,” Fraser said. “It showed how they were helping out their mom. It was a big help for them to do that versus her taking time out of her day to do it.”
Responding to grief
Erik, Devon and Ezekiel weren’t the first CCA students to pass away. However, Fraser said he doesn’t remember a similar incident in his 10 years at CCA.
Fraser said an announcement was sent to staff to offer grief counseling services through the school’s counselors and its insurance. Staff reached out to students and families involved with students to offer grief counseling.
The support CCA has shown to the family resulted in one of Susan’s best friends possibly enrolling a student in CCA, which Fraser called “neat but bittersweet.”
A fundraiser for the Major family was held Dec. 12 at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg, 1150 Camp Hill Bypass, Camp Hill.