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Classmates of Azriel Carver meet to say their final goodbyes

Van Stenbom, a second-grader at Vinland Elementary School in Poulsbo, takes time to look at a wooden whale made in honor of his classmate Azriel Carver who died last month. The whale features handprints with student names in them and is supposed to be hung in the school
Van Stenbom, a second-grader at Vinland Elementary School in Poulsbo, takes time to look at a wooden whale made in honor of his classmate Azriel Carver who died last month. The whale features handprints with student names in them and is supposed to be hung in the school's entrance.
— image credit: Christopher Carter/staff photo

Referring to Azriel Carver's big smile, Vinland Elementary School Principal Charley McCabe asked the second-graders: what is an "infectious smile?"

"When he laughed, it made other people laugh so much," said Nathan Willis, 8, a classmate of Azriel's.

Second-graders at Vinland Elementary School congregated Monday to say goodbye to a classmate and a friend. Azriel's body was found March 18, five days after he disappeared with his mother Shantina Smiley while en route to Castle Rock to visit a relative. His death was ruled an accidental drowning by the Pierce County Medical Examiner.

"This is still, five weeks later, very difficult," said McCabe, of the death of 8-year-old student Azriel Carver.

Smiley's fiance, Robb Simmons, Azriel's great-grandmother Dolly Smith and uncle Travis Wallingford, were also in attendance.

Students were mostly silent as they listened to their principal recall Azriel's time at the school. A few took the opportunity to share their thoughts.

Another student said she remembered Azriel's concern for others.

"He had a big heart because if someone was hurt, he'd make sure they were okay."

It was Azriel's smile that some remember most.

"He really did have that infectious smile, a great energy," McCabe said.

Azriel will also be featured in this year's yearbook, with a page dedicated to his memory including quotes from students, McCabe said.

Azriel's memory was also honored Saturday at the memorial service for Smiley in Brinnon.

Representatives from Cub Scout Pack 4544 were at the service to commemorate Azriel's membership in the group.

Azriel was working on his wolf patch before he died, and was honored with the "Spirit of the Eagle" award given to scouts as a posthumous recognition.

"It's an unfortunate honor," said Steven Hirsch, district executive for the Orca district of Boy Scouts of America.

Hirsch also presented Simmons with the wolf badge, as a tribute to Azriel.

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