By John Toole
---- — PELHAM — Police and school administrators are investigating an unusual case of vandalism at Pelham High School.
Students this week spray-painted messages of sorrow on the exterior of the school building over the loss of their friend, 16-year-old Zach Andrews.
Zach, a member of the junior class, died Jan. 19 because of complications from pneumonia.
"We love you man," "R.I.P.," and "Miss you Buddy" were among the messages painted on the school.
His funeral was yesterday at St. Patrick's Church. There were no classes scheduled because it was an in-service day for the high school.
"The church was packed with hundreds attending, including I would guess most of Zach's class," School Board Chairman Brian Carton said.
"The entire community, not just the school community, is deeply affected by Zach's sudden passing. Our thoughts and prayers today are with Zachary, his family and his friends," Carton said.
The school formally remembered Zach during the week with a moment of silence and 16 bell rings for each year of his life. A memorial set up inside the school displayed his photo and students could write condolence messages.
Zach's parents are Nancy and Keith Andrews. He was the youngest of five children.
His death clearly touched the community.
"Our heart aches for you and your family. Zach was a wonderful child and the entire community will miss him terribly," the Brown family – Vic, Chris, Keith and Drew – said in condolences posted on the Pelham Funeral Home website.
Because Zach's goal was to become a history professor or archaeologist, his family set up the Zachary John Andrews Scholarship Fund to benefit a boy or girl who plans to study history or archaeology.
Memorial donations can be made to the fund in care of Sovereign Bank, P.O. Box 30, Pelham, NH 03076.
Carton said school administrators would handle any discipline issues arising from the graffiti episode.
"The extent of the graffiti is large enough that anyone who drives by will see it and the police are investigating," he said. "I don't know where it will lead or when it will be resolved."
For Pelham, yesterday was about Zach, not the bad decision to remember him with graffiti.
"The important thing today is that we remember Zach, honor his life, and try to lend support to those most affected by this tragedy," Carton said.