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Metea community commemorates the life of Julián Jeronimo Sanchez Popayan

Courtesy of Julián’s family
Julián Jerónimo Sánchez Popayán passed away due to a brain aneurysm on Oct. 17, 2023. He was 14 years old.

“He was a good kid, and he always tried his best. He was always fun, and always happy,” freshman Matias Diaz, Julián’s cousin, said. 

The Mustang community is grieving the loss of freshman Julián Jeronimo Sanchez Popayan who passed away on Oct. 17, 2023, after being hospitalized due to a fatal brain aneurysm. Since his passing, the friends, teachers, and staff he left an impact on have been struggling to process the loss they have suffered, including his ELL (English Language Learner) teacher, Bella Gallegos-Martinez.

“I remember on the first day of school, he seemed a bit shy, but after talking to him it felt like you were talking to a friend,” Gallegos-Martinez said. “He was super bubbly, funny, and goofy. He left a positive trail everywhere he went.”

During Julián’s time at Metea Valley, he formed several connections and bonds with the people around him. In his ELL classroom, teachers and students alike mourn the laughter and joy he brought to the community.

“ELL is very close-knit, so this has been difficult for us,” Gallegos-Martinez said. “We took time to cry and be there for each other, but more importantly we took time to celebrate the little things about Julián. He loved the color black, he loved to play soccer, and he was always cheerful and full of life. That’s what we remember when we think about Julián.”

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Metea’s administrators are working to commemorate Julián’s life. For principal Daniel DeBruycker, the process is difficult, but it is important to ensure that Metea responds appropriately to the tragedy.

“The first thing we do is try to communicate with the family,” DeBruycker said. “We have a crisis team meeting with teachers, counselors, administrators, and deans to figure out our path forward in supporting the school through the loss. They are very difficult meetings to have, but I am very proud of our staff for joining together to commemorate the student we lost.”

DeBruycker personally understands the importance of taking time to grieve and mourn following the loss of a loved one.

“I lost my mom on the fifth day of school, and I can attest that it is a uniquely tragic, hard, and painful experience,” Debruycker said. “Even so, I know that we can turn this period of mourning into a celebration of the student’s life, and bring the whole school community together in the process.” 

Diaz, Julián’s cousin, recalls the little things that he and Julián did together, memories that he will cherish going forward.

“Every time I saw him, he was always making me laugh,” Diaz said. “He was somebody that I could talk to about anything. He would always come to my house to play and hang out.”

Julián is survived by his parents, John and Paola, and his friend and cousin Diaz. They wanted to share his story as a reminder to parents to spend as much time with their children and to take any symptoms their child experiences seriously. 

“When Julián’s mother went to go get the car, I stayed with my son inside,” Julián’s father said. “With his last effort, he grabbed my hand and said, ‘Dad, don’t let me go. Don’t let me go, dad. I want to be with you, don’t let me go. Don’t let me go.’ That image is still in my head.”

Through the pain and loss suffered at home, school, and beyond, Metea remains vigilant in its mission to support everyone through the loss of Julián.

“We continue to have the family in our thoughts,” Debruycker said. “We will continue to support them and our community through this devastating loss.”

Any students interested in donating to the fundraiser made by Julián’s family may visit the site here.

View Comments (7)
About the Contributors
Tanay Pant
Tanay is the online Editor-In-Chief, and this is his third year on the News Journalism team. He loves writing, speaking, and creating new things in general. When he’s not telling stories or furiously doing his homework, you’ll find him listening to music way louder than he reasonably should.
Carlos Sanchez
Carlos is a junior at Metea and this is his first year on staff as a sports reporter. He enjoys playing soccer and listening to music, specifically jazz or R&B songs. He is also pretty good at thrifting.

Comments (7)

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  • M

    MKNov 1, 2023 at 11:25 pm

    🙁 Rest in peace, hope he’s well wherever he is.

  • M

    MeenaOct 29, 2023 at 10:12 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. That is very hard to deal with when losing a loved one. Trust me, I know how that feels.

  • J

    Joseph PedersenOct 26, 2023 at 2:14 pm

    I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss. I did not personally know him, but I’ve heard fantastic things about him. I hope his family is doing well and may he rest in peace.

  • R

    Ritesh BommineniOct 25, 2023 at 4:41 pm

    So sorry for your loss Julian, your friend was the best friend you ever had. Stay strong. Your friend will always be with you in your heart.

  • P

    Parents of Julian SanchezOct 25, 2023 at 3:31 pm METEA MEDIA Pick

    To all the METEA community, thank you very much, Principal Daniel DeBruycke, thank you for your support and company in this difficult moment, teacher, Bella Gallegos-Martinez, it was a pleasure to meet you, you have a kind heart and I thank you for having shared with our son, thank you because in such a short time, you knew Jero, you knew his heart and his essence, Javier I have no words to express how grateful we are to you, you are an empathetic, caring person, this planet needs people like you and all of you, thanks to Tanay and Carlos for commemorating Jero and for those who did not know him could get an idea of who Jero was and his beautiful smile, thanks to friends and colleagues. Love each other very much and love your families, friends and loved ones , live your life like there is no tomorrow !!!! “Only with the heart you can see well; what is essential is invisible to the eyes”.

  • J

    John SanchezOct 25, 2023 at 3:13 pm METEA MEDIA Pick

    Good afternoon,

    On behalf of my wife Paola, his brother Daniel, myself and the entire Sanchez Popayan family I want to thank you deeply from my heart, the METEA institution and the young Tanay Pant and Carlos Sanchez of the newspaper ? for recognizing our son Jeronimo.

    Those lines of the report touched our soul, we thank all the teachers, students, parents and all those who have joined our feelings.

    A fraternal greeting to all who participated in this initiative.

    We will be confirming Jeronimo’s ceremony for those who want to join him.

    A fraternal embrace.


    Sanchez Popayan Family.

  • E

    Evan ROct 25, 2023 at 10:41 am

    so sorry he was the best friend i could ever have im still grieving over this loss