Guilderland Central School District is sad to announce the passing of one of our beloved high school students, William LaFlash. William, known as “Billy” to his friends and family, was a 17 year old student at Guilderland High School whose kindness and positivity was contagious. He was a simple soul, always seen with a smile on his face and taking pleasure in the little things. He had a fantastic sense of humor that was evident when he would tell a joke or when he cheered on his classmates for doing well in class. He could put a smile on anyone’s face and their day would instantly be better.
Despite being only 17 years old, Billy made a tremendous impact on a vast number of people and it’s illustrated by their memories of him. Occupational therapist Cindy Schwartz remembers Billy as an inspiration to others. “He never complained, always arrived at school happy and confident! I often would leave school with a smile knowing that Billy was proud of the smallest accomplishments of opening his locker to independently completing his artwork in class.”
Speech-language pathologist Kristin Knauf recalls Billy’s support of his fellow classmates and his friendly personality. “He consistently demonstrated kindness to his peers and encouraged them along the way. I loved his thumbs up when his classmates gave good answers.”
Billy’s physical therapist since third grade at Westmere Elementary School, Julianne Scanlan, says Billy was determined, knowing the hard work he had to achieve. “He celebrated every baby step with full throttle joy and pride, and he had the incredible art of making you feel like you could just stand still for a moment, with him, be seen and heard, and enjoy the time together.”
Lastly, Billy’s teacher at GHS, John Meyer, said that “I only knew Billy for a short time, but in that time I think Billy taught me more than I taught him.” John remembers Billy always looking on the bright side of everything, saying “Billy always encouraged us and cheered our victories no matter how big or small. He taught me that whatever the day brings, be kind to everyone and enjoy yourself.”
Billy will forever be remembered as a funny, kindhearted soul. His memory will continue to live on in the hearts of his family, friends and community. The sound of a laugh, telling of a joke, a flash of a smile, or showing a sign of support are all small but valued gestures that help carry on Billy’s legacy.