Westside Story

By Frank Gruber,

By the time the memorial for Deanna Maran ended Monday afternoon, it was dark enough.

Dark enough so that the snapshots projected on the back wall of the Greek Theater at Santa Monica High School were clear, and it was plain that all the talk about Deanna's smile had not been just talk.

Dark enough so that candles kindled when it was still light, now lit the faces of the rememberers.

Dark enough to shadow the tears, but not so dark as to obscure the gleam of a smile recollecting a happier day.

People use words like "senseless" and "tragic" to describe the deaths of children -also known as "teenagers"- that we read about in the back pages of the "California" section of the L.A. Times: the killings and car-crashes that result from adolescent bravado, behind a weapon or behind the wheel, sometimes fueled by drink or drugs or inexplicable desperation, or unfathomable anger. Sometimes, as with Columbine or Santee, these deaths make the front page.

But these words do not tell us much -how could the violent death of a fifteen-year-old ever make sense, or be anything but tragic?

Deanna Maran was fifteen. I did not know her, although she lived down the street from the house I moved into last year. I have watched the accumulation of candles and flowers and photographs in front of her house grow steadily.

Deanna made straight A's at school. She played three sports and sang in the chorus. She came from a loving family -her parents had already raised three accomplished sisters, and she had a younger brother.

She was adored.

At the moment, despite various reports in the press, much is unclear or at least unconfirmed about what happened at the party in Westwood where Deanna was fatally attacked. The death of her alleged assailant is still a mystery along with any information about her, or about how the party came to be, and how an argument escalated into murderous violence.

Without more authoritative information, it would be wrong to speculate about responsibility.

But we know, using what words we have, that Deanna Maran's death will never make sense and will forever be a tragedy.

Remembering Deanna Maran

By Teresa Rochester

Nov. 26 -A bundle of blue and gold balloons lifted slowly towards the late afternoon sky. They were heavy with messages written by members of the Santa Monica High School volleyball teammates of Deanna Maran, 15, who died Nov. 17 after being stabbed at a party.

"Out of everybody that I know, she was going to change the world," said one teammate at the Tuesday afternoon memorial service held in Samohi's Greek Theater.

Several hundred students, family and community members, school and City officials clutched candles and cried and laughed as Maran -a popular sophomore known as "Lala"- was remembered through poems, songs, speeches and slides as an exceptional student, athlete and artist.

"She lightened up the mood and knew when a good laugh was needed," said classmate and friend Zoe Blake. "If it is possible for angels to roam the earth, she is one of them."

As much as it was a chance to remember Maran's life, the service also was an opportunity to call for an end to the violence that cut it short.

"One of the things that brings us together this afternoon is talking about nonviolence," said Maran's 26-year-old sister Amika. "The first step toward non-violence is kindness and just acting like a human."

"Deanna did not know what she wanted to do with her future," said Samohi English teacher Anoushka Franke. "We can give her an occupation. We can give her a job by making her a beacon of nonviolence. You have been raised in a violent society but that society is not stagnant... As we move on will your commitment to non-violence fade?"

There weren't only words. The high school's Associated Student Body donated $1,100 to the Deanna Maran Memorial Scholarship for Non-Violence.

The service also was a time to publicly come to grips with the violence that ended in the fatal stabbing at a party in a home on an upscale Westwood street two weekends ago. Two teenagers read poems they had written in the sleepless nights following Maran's death.

"So many times I've replayed this horrible night in my head," read Tim Livingston, 15, who carried Maran to a car after she was stabbed with a knife in the heart. "Maybe I could have done something and you wouldn't be dead."

The girl's water polo team, known as the Lady Greenies, dedicated their upcoming season to their teammate, while the volleyball team retired Maran's number -21- and announced a new annual spirit award in her honor.

A co-worker at the Firehouse Restaurant, where Deanna worked as hostess, remembered her ability to break the stress of a Sunday rush with her stories and recalled the bevy of male admirers who were turned away by co-workers with "sorry dude she's only 15."

"It wasn't long before casual customers would become regulars," her co-worker said.

Maran followed in her older sisters' footsteps by working at the Firehouse, but it also was apt that she worked at a restaurant. Maran was remembered by a number of speakers for her love of food.

"Forget this, I'm hungry," friends Salomae Kpohanu and Crystal Godwyn remembered Maran saying shortly after she lost a singing competition because the girls were ribbing her during her performance.

An empty blue plastic chair sat on the theater's stage in honor of Maran, who sang in the school's choir. Choir members sang Ave Maria and Irish Blessing.

"I am from a line of high achieving sisters," she wrote in the poem dated January 23. "I am from a well to do family/ Who have become all successful/Easily on their own."

She concludes the poem -titled "I am from..."- with the following words:

"But yet I'm the only one
Who still doesn't know
What she is going to do.

"I am from..."

After the memorial service, Maran's family hosted a reception in the school cafeteria. She is survived by her parents Harriet and Ilja, sisters Amika, Bianca, 21, and Claudia, 19, and brother Ilja, 10.

On Sunday the family, who lives in Ocean Park, held a private funeral service.

Contributions to the Deanna Maran Memorial Scholarship for Non-Violence can be sent to SAMOHI Scholarships, Santa Monica High School, 601 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405.



The Deanna Maran Foundation relies upon tax deductible contributions for financial aid.

You can donate using Pay Pal or by sending a check to::

Deanna Maran Foundation for Non-Violence
P.O. Box 7037
San Carlos, CA 94070

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Thank you for your continued support of the Deanna Maran Foundation for Non Violence