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Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Father of slain teens: 'Please don't forget how they lived'

TAMPA - He sat in the front row and listened to a parade of students and teachers tell how much they loved and missed his two children. Then, near the end, it was Parker Schenecker's turn to speak. "They love you, too," he said of 16-year-old Calyx and 13-year-old Beau, who police say died last week when their mother shot each of them twice in the head for being mouthy. "Please don't forget how they lived." The father said he was humbled by the show of support he had received over the deaths of his "exceptional children." He thanked those who had lit a candle, sent flowers or signed a soccer jersey over the last few days.
"You honored my children," he said. "Your devoted friend, your classmate, your teammate." The 90-minute "celebration of life" at First Baptist Church of Temple Terrace on Wednesday night offered a peek inside the lives of the two teenagers - Calyx a 10th-grader at King High School and Beau an eighth-grader at Liberty Middle School. In the lobby outside the church's gymnasium, a long line formed to sign tributes to the two, whose color photographs were perched on a table. There was Calyx wearing a red clown nose, running cross country, dancing and acting goofy with her friends. There was Beau, always smiling, sometimes looking more than a bit mischievous. "I miss you and love you so much," one girl named Emily wrote to Calyx. "This season and next season are for you." One of Beau's friends wrote that he would miss sleepovers with his buddy. Inside during the service, everyone talked of two promising lives cut short. Allison Newton, Beau's language arts teacher, described the teen as having a great sense of humor and who would make funny faces and do imitations of teachers. He was kind to everyone, she said, and always was willing to help other students. Beau had charted the places he had lived all over the world because of his dad's job in the military. Parker Schenecker, a colonel in the Army, was serving in Qatar when he got the call that his two children had been slain. "I want to be in the military, too," Newton recalled Beau as writing in an essay once. "I want to be just like my father." Jeff Halle, who taught freshman English to Calyx last year, called her an incredibly gifted artist who was an ideal student and excelled in the International Baccalaureate program at King. "Her work became the example for others," he said. Her cross country coach, Gary Bingham, told of Calyx always stopping to pick up acorns, bugs and other items as the team practiced. He related a story where runners got the chance to jump hurdles recently during a practice session. Calyx, whose father was a hurdler in high school, cleared the first set, then tripped and fell nose-first into the grass on the second set. She got up laughing, Bingham said, and said, "Let's go again." "That was Calyx," the coach said. Teachers and administrators were not the only ones remembering the teens. Friends who laughed with them, learned with them and played with them also spoke. Scott Patchan said he lived across the street from Beau for more than two years and rode the bus to school with him every day. They played football, basketball, hockey and video games. It was Beau, Scott said, who introduced him to the game of soccer. "Our family misses him so much because he was a part of it," Scott said. Calvin Works described Beau as his best friend. He related a story about telling his pal about a plan to build a fort in the woods and Beau showed up with a detailed blueprint. "Beau and I were like brothers," he said. "If anyone messed with either of us, the other would have his back." Those who remembered Calyx described her as bright-eyed, smart, charming and lively. She wanted to attend New York University and also raise elephants in Thailand in the summer, one said. She said she was happy that her family had moved around the globe as part of her father's military career, because it taught her more than books ever could. As each student left the stage after speaking, Parker Schenecker stood to hug them, one by one, embracing each like they were his own. A father's grief collided with that represented by two schools, which came together on one night. And all of those who spoke said they would do all in their power to carry on the memories, and the legacies, of the two teenagers whose lives ended too suddenly, too tragically, too violently. Newton, the language arts teacher, has come up with a way to honor the younger Schenecker. "His seat in the classroom will remain empty in honor of Beau," she said.

A poem in the program:

If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane.

We would walk right up to heaven and bring you back again.

No farewell words were spoken, no time to say goodbye.

You were gone before we knew it, and only God knows why.

Our hearts still ache in sadness, and many tears will flow.

What it meant to lose you, no one can ever know.

But now we know you want us to mourn for you no more.

To remember all the happy times life still has much in store.

Since you'll never be forgotten we pledge to you today.

A hallowed place within our hearts is where you"ll always stay.

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