Friends honor fallen Whitnall classmate
Memories follow Greenfield girl who in died in New Berlin bike crash
New Berlin — Family and friends said goodbye to 15-year-old Brittany Barnstable in funeral services May 28, following a week in which classmates rallied around to show support for her family.
The Whitnall High School freshman died May 19, one day after an accident with a car while she was crossing Sunny Slope Road on her bicycle along the New Berlin Recreation Trail at about 4:30 p.m.
On the Monday following the Saturday accident, the students all dressed in red, Brittany's favorite color, and assembled on the field around the school's falcon symbol in honor of their classmate.
"Mrs. Barnstable was there, and you could see she was touched," said Whitnall High School guidance counselor Michael Neumann.
The student council made red ribbons with Brittany's soccer jersey, No. 15, on them and the ribbons were displayed on the shirts of students all over school.
The soccer teams, both varsity players and the junior varsity team on which Brittany played, wore black armbands with her number on them as they played their games on May 21 and May 23 last week.
Finally, two girls who shared an art class with Brittany made huge cards at least 3 feet by 3 feet with multiple pages, on which students filled wrote messages to the Barnstable family.
Dealing with grief
Because the loss of a classmate is traumatic, Neumann said he visited each of Brittany's classes to speak to the young people about the grieving process and to let them know that counselors were available to them.
Several students did seek out counselors, he added.
For the most part, it doesn't seem real to them that they just had spoken to Brittany only the day before and now they will never see her again, Neumann said.
He told them that is how they will feel for a time and that they will laugh and cry at happy memories involving Brittany, and that those are the ones they must hold onto.
And many did have happy memories of her.
In speaking with friends and those who knew her, Neumann said, "She was the sort the kids would say, 'She's very chill,'" meaning she was relaxed and easy going.
She was nonjudgemental and friendly with fellow students, he said.
Budding soccer star
Soccer head coach Robert Antholine remembers Brittany as enthusiastic and a hard worker.
During competition in mid-March, Brittany, who lived in Greenfield, would work out at a Hales Corners fitness center at 4 or 4:30 in the morning, he said.
"She liked competing ... and she was talented, a good player," he said.
He was looking forward to having her on the varsity team.
"She probably would have had a good soccer future," he said.
Overall Neumann said, "She was a fun, spontaneous kid and looking to make the most of life."
As it turned out, Brittany made the most of life for eight other people — all needing organ transplants. Brittany's heart, lungs, pancreas, liver and kidneys were all donated for transplant.
"I know the Barnstable family has taken great comfort in that living legacy," Neumann said.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- One family's story of poverty
- Special report: Poverty spills into schools in every corner of southeast metro area (6)
- Probe of possible New Berlin teacher, student sexual contact continues
- Burglaries, car theft among New Berlin, Muskego cases in courts
- Police blotter: Feb. 4
- Inclusive playground to replace splashpad plan in New Berlin
- Beloved musical, 'Dreamcoat,' to open at New Berlin West PAC on Friday
- Probe continues into alleged New Berlin West teacher misconduct (1)
- BuySeasons of New Berlin to permanently lay off 128 employees
- New Berlin, Junior Woman's Club shelve splashpad, favor playground