What happened to Katherine Young? Tributes pour in as beloved Smithfield High School music teacher passes away


Katherine Young, a cherished music teacher at Smithfield High School, reportedly passed away following a brief illness over the weekend. The Smithfield High School Music Booster Club announced Young, who worked at the school for ten years, died on Saturday, December 30, 2023.

While the school did not elaborate on the cause of death, NBC affiliate WJAR reported Young died after suffering from complications from the flu. The sudden passing of a music teacher stunned the Smithfield community, who remembered her as a beloved teacher, colleague, and friend.

The Smithfield High School Music Boosters Club announced the news in a Facebook post. Melissa Moroni, president of the Smithfield High School Music Boosters, wrote:

“The loss of Katherine has definitely left a hole in our department and our lives. She was just the spark of the school.”

Community mourns death of beloved Smithfield High School music teacher Katherine Young

The sudden passing of Smithfield High School music teacher Katherine Young has affected many, including The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, who urged the community members to wear purple in honor of her memory.

In a statement, the organization mourned the loss of the late teacher, described as a beautiful soul.

“Our hearts are broken.. This beautiful soul, with a smile that could light up a room, has been taken too soon. May the choirs of Angels lead you into paradise Katherine. You are loved. Please pray for her family.”

In a Facebook post, former student and friend Juliana Rivelli commented on Young’s unwavering dedication to her students. Rivelli said that Katherine Young fostered her love for music and tutored her for hours.

“ I have so many incredible memories and I can’t even begin to fathom a loss this big. A loss for the Smithfield community, ACDA community, RoseBud community and so many more I can’t even think of at the moment. I will miss you so much, Katherine. Thank you for everything. I hope I can be even half of the woman you were, then my life will be complete,” she added.

Young’s colleague Kelly Chartier, who worked alongside the late teacher in the Smithfield music department, told WJAR that she was adored by students who loved her smile that lit up a room.

“The kids just loved her. They loved her smile. It just lit up the room, there’s no other way to describe it,” said Chartier. “It’s still a shock right now. I haven’t processed it fully.”

Several others took to social media to collectively express grief over the tragic loss.

Katherine Young GoFundmMe raises over $20,000

A GoFundMe campaign launched by community members to render financial assistance to Young’s family said that she is survived by her two young children, Remington, 9, and Ramona, 6, and husband of 14 years, Ricky Young. The page added:

“Katherine made a powerful impact on the community through her dedication to her career and the personal well-being of every individual she encountered. She made everyone feel like they were special. She breathed life and love into everything she was involved in.”

The fundraising page has raised over $20,000 at the time of writing this article.

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