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'Be Like E'

H-BC secondary students remember late student with schoolwide activity
Lead Summary
Mavis Fodness

A special 16th birthday celebration is taking place at the Hills-Beaver Creek Secondary School in memory of a former student.
Ethan Erickson would have turned 16 on Nov. 11.
Instead, a day before Ethan’s birthday, his fellow sophomores invited the rest of the sixth- through 12th-grade students to participate in a five-week activity called “Be Like E.”
“I felt that the school could benefit from thinking of others and being thankful and kind during the month of Thanksgiving,” said Ethan’s mom and secondary teacher Heather Erickson.
“I always strive to have a ‘No Meanness Zone’ in my classroom, and I felt that it would be more impactful for the students when thinking about how their friend was a role model for them and left a lasting impression on their lives.”
The “Be Like E” schoolwide activity began Nov. 16 and will continue through the week of Dec. 12.
Each week focuses on a characteristic or trait that Ethan exhibited regularly until his death from leukemia in October 2019 at the age of 12.
Empathy. Thankful. Honest. Accepting. Nice.
Or E-T-H-A-N.
“Choosing the characteristics for E-T-H-A-N were easy for me to come up with because he truly was a kind, caring, empathetic soul, who was nice to everyone around him,” Heather said.
 “Ethan was a people pleaser and just wanted others around him to be happy.”
Others recognized the same traits in Ethan.
Four years ago, Heather and her husband, Aaron, were presented with a book of letters from H-BC students in Ethan’s memory. The students shared memories and kind words about Ethan. The book is treasured by the Erickson family.
“This book gave me the inspiration for the idea of ‘Be Like E’ to use in my classroom,” Heather said.
“The continued message that we share are the last words he had written to my husband and me in our birthday cards.”
Rocks were also included.
A rock collector, Ethan enjoyed finding unique rocks and used to rub prayer stones to stay calm as he felt the love and peace around him during treatments.
His lasting message to his parents was, “Sometimes the one touch you need is love. Take these rocks to help you remember.”
Ethan is also remembered by his close friends, who assembled a four-minute YouTube video for the kickoff “Be Like E” student assembly.
Sawyer Bosch, Emma Deelstra, Cameron Allen and Jack Moser each related stories about Ethan’s display of empathy, honesty, acceptance and being nice. Heather completed stories for “T” with thankfulness.
During the five weeks of “Be Like E” activity, H-BC secondary students exhibiting the characteristic of the week are rewarded with tickets that can be redeemed through the school’s G.R.A.D. store.
Secondary principal Andrew Kellenberger said the store conducts weekly drawings for gift cards to local businesses, or students can choose from a variety of locally donated items.
G.R.A.D. stands for goal-orientated, respectful, accountable and determined.
“These are the expectations we teach throughout the school year,” Kellenberger said. “We also believe they are good college, career and life skills for all our students.”
“Be Like E” reminds H-BC students and staff to show empathy, be honest, thankful, accepting of others and nice to everyone just like Ethan displayed regularly.
“Having a positive attitude is contagious, and it can change our environment for the better,” Heather said. “I asked students to think about what they want their legacy to be when they leave H-BC.”

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