"It's not the way you want to begin a school year," said Harold Hatton, principal of Kenwood Senior High School in Essex. "It's a tragedy.
Hatton was talking yesterday about the violent deaths of two students and how the murders affected their classmates at Kenwood, which has a student body of about 1,100.
"More than anything, their closest friends are very upset that they lost someone they cared for," Hatton said.
"The majority of our kids are angry that somebody who had some axes to grind . . . would snuff out people he didn't know," the principal said.
William Wesley "Billy" Winebrenner, 16, and his sweetheart, Melody Nicole Pistorio, 14, were shot on Labor Day during an apparent robbery at the Big Red Mini Mart in the 9000 block of Pulaski Highway. Winebrenner was a gas station attendant there. Pistorio was pronounced dead at the scene; Winebrenner died Sunday at the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore.
John Frederick Thanos, 41, of Joppa, is being held without bail at the Worcester County Detention Center. Thanos has been charged with slaying Pistorio and, in another case, Gregory Allen Taylor, 18, of Hebron.
E. Jay Miller, county police spokesman, said the county state's attorney's office will ask a grand jury to charge Thanos with murder in connection with Winebrenner's death.
Just two days before Winebrenner's death, family and friends and classmates had said goodbye to Pistorio at her funeral.
Yesterday, students at Kenwood said goodbye to Winebrenner.
Teachers in individual classes read a special announcement explaining how sad it was to say goodbye to another student, Hatton said. "It was more personal that way," than reading it over an intercom system, he said.
Students who couldn't cope with Winebrenner's death were offered counseling as part of the school's crisis intervention efforts, Hatton said. "We pay a lot of attention to kids who are here as well as mourning the loss of a student," the principal said.
Students also were told of Winebrenner's funeral services later this week.
Hatton said he and many of the students would view Winebrenner's body today or tomorrow. The visitation will be from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. both days at Bruzdzinski funeral VTC establishment, 1407 Old Eastern Ave. in Essex. The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Fundamental Baptist Church on Chandelle Road, near Martin Boulevard in Baltimore County.
Winebrenner will be buried at the Holly Hill Mausoleum and Memorial Park at 10201 Bird River Road in Baltimore County.
According to Hatton, Winebrenner was in his third year at Kenwood and very active in the school's technical theater program. Winebrenner liked to build sets and work behind the scenes, the principal said.
"A teacher described him as an individual who would go through any lengths to get the job done" in the theater department, Hatton said.
Winebrenner and Pistorio met in the drama department, the educator said.
Hatton said this about the deaths of the two teen-agers: "It makes you stop and think how vulnerable we are in society and . . . how we should be careful."