Thank You, Carter
Carthoris “Carter” Uziel passed away on June 17, 2018 at 15 years old. He was a sophomore at Westfield High School and a valued member of our community. With the help of those who knew him, we hope to shine a light on his life and celebrate the memories he planted along the way.
October 8, 2018
“Carter treated every patch delicately, smoothing off the edges in places dirt would fall, cleaning and watering the soil.” Matt Gero, a former WHS student and close friend of Carter, had never seen Carter more patient than when they gardened together. Tomatoes, oregano, garlic—you name it, Carter had it. The seeds grew in his makeshift garden: a black, 24 spot egg carton.
Carter’s green thumb was just a fraction of who he was. “He was open, creative with a passion and determined in his goals,” Matt explained. Carter enjoyed drawing and channeled his creativity through drama. He was an avid Marvel fan (Deadpool was a favorite). Like many teenage boys, Carter loved Fortnite and presented multiple projects on the subject in school—and even performed its famous dances.
In a school of 2,000 students, it takes a lot to acknowledge someone in the hallways. For Carter, however, this came as second nature. Paul Valenzano, his guidance counselor, explained that Carter always made an effort through the crowd to say hello.
Whether he was channeling his creative side by doodling in the margins of his paper or brightening the mood in class by sharing his jokes, Carter never failed to let his comedic side come out. In the classroom, he enjoyed learning while moving about the room and talking to his classmates. “He was one of those types of students who thrived better standing up and writing things on the board,” said Math Teacher Maureen Stephen, who knew Carter both his freshman and sophomore year.
At the end of the year when students were signing Stephen’s yearbook, Carter’s signature reflected his playful humor. “He started writing ‘Have a good summer,’ then got distracted and drew a picture of a dinosaur and ended his quote there,” Stephen said.
Other teachers remembered Carter’s lighthearted jokes as always being a part of their classroom. Ms. Jessica Norworth, his sophomore math teacher, remembered Carter sitting in the front row of her class. “Sometimes I’d look at him and he’d have this little grin in the corner of his mouth,” Norworth recalled.
These teachers’ memories are a testament to the impact Carter had on anyone who knew him. As for his peers, they too, fondly look back on their memories of Carter.
To junior Maxwell Switlyk, Carter was the kid who played four square with him during Teen Scene rec camps the summer going into 7th grade. To junior Anthony Merlo, Carter was the boy who always sat next to him in drama class and always made him feel part of the group. To junior James Greaney, Carter was the guy who made the class laugh by performing his Fortnite dance. “Carter would light up the class,” Greaney said.
Carter’s love for making people laugh translated into a hidden passion for theater. Drama Teacher Daniel Devlin felt that drama class allowed Carter to be the goofy guy he wanted to be. “He just wanted to go out there and have fun,” said Devlin.
There were several opportunities for the drama students to showcase their comedic abilities, but Devlin’s Twelfth Night Shakespeare assignment illuminated Carter’s inner actor. “It was the strongest performance he had ever done in class,” Devlin said. Memorizing lines and doing justice to Shakespeare’s theater craft is no easy task. According to Devlin, “Carter had to make it real and internal and he did both of those.”
Like every high school student, there is a barrier that goes up to protect from getting hurt. It’s human nature. “[Many students] feel that they simply have to show you that they’re strong and they’re bright and they’re talented,” Devlin said.
“I think that it’s important for [students] to recognize that everybody hurts,” Devlin continued. “Just because one day someone might seem like they’ve got it all down and in control, sometimes it’s just the actor.”
Students and teachers alike keep their memories of Carter close to their heart. Stephen still keeps the picture of her third period math class on her desk. Norworth still remembers her proudest moment of Carter when he excelled on an end of year assessment. Devlin still cherishes the times when Carter would stop by at the end of the day just to chat.
Others were simply grateful for the moments they had with Carter. “I was a better teacher for having known him,” Warren Hynes, his Blog Writing teacher, said.
Carter was gentle. Patient. Funny. Vibrant. Genuine. He might not be here to see it, but the roots Carter planted will forever grow in WHS.
Matt remembers their time planting together vividly. “We laid the container down on the back porch to watch [the seeds] grow for another day. We never took them out. They may be fully grown by now. Carter would have been proud to see that.”