South remembers Matt McNabola

Mary Grace Reynolds and Molly Stryker

On Oct. 23, junior Matt McNabola passed away unexpectedly at his home surrounded by family, according to Principal Dr. Lauren Fagel in an email sent to South students, staff, and parents. McNabola was an active and loyal member of several clubs and activities through South including Key Club, Bass Fishing, Young Life, Homecoming float construction, and Glenbrook Lacrosse Club, according to Fagel.

McNabola epitomized what it meant to be welcoming and perceptive to the thoughts and feelings of those around him, according to senior Jacob Snyder, who knew McNabola from Young Life.

“Matt was super kind, one of the nicest kids I’ve ever met,” Snyder said. “He was always super loving and welcoming towards everybody, especially towards newer kids [in Young Life]. He would always go out of his way to welcome them. He was also wise beyond his years and always had a good feel for what was going on in the room.”

McNabola was very well spoken and had the ability to inspire others even through casual conversation, according to junior Jackie Christiansen.

“Whenever he spoke it was like something poetic,” Christiansen said. “So everything he said, whether it be funny or serious had meaning to me and really inspired me.”

Fagel, having known McNabola, says that his many positive attributes characterize the legacy he has left, and will continue to leave, on the South community.

“People are remembered for who they were, and for him the words I keep hearing over and over [was that] he was genuinely sweet, kind, and incredibly positive,” Fagel said.

McNabola took Woodworking both sophomore and junior year, where he proved himself to be a resilient student, Woodworking Teacher Steve Silca says.

“In woodworking, especially when you’re doing it for the first time, it can be frustrating,” Silca said. “He was able to handle a little bit of a challenge or a little bit of adversity without getting upset and I don’t think a lot of kids did that as successfully as Matt did.”

Academically, McNabola was performing at his all-time best and achieved a long-time goal of improving himself as a student this year.

“Matt just seemed very gentle, very content and I know from others that he was really proud of himself because academically he was doing the best he’s ever done and that was a goal of his,” Fagel said.

Senior Sara Jedlinski explained that McNabola was a integral member of Young Life and notoriously put others before himself.

“He always cared about everyone so much, more than himself,” Jedlinski said. “He could have been having the worst day ever and he could have been going through something unimaginable, and he would always still ask everyone about their days and how they’re doing.”

McNabola planned to pursue a career in computer engineering, says Fagel.

“I think he had a really bright future ahead,” Fagel explained. “He wanted to go into computer engineering.”

The South community has come together in a few different ways in the wake of McNabola’s death, according to Fagel. The week of his passing, a table was set up in the hallway that allowed for students to share memories or write a note to his family. The hockey team also plans to memorialize McNabola by sporting his initials on their helmets for the upcoming season and holding a moment of silence before the North vs. South Hockey game.