CARROLLTON – The Carroll Academy community is mourning the loss of one of its own after the tragic passing of Abigail Louise O’Cain, 12, a sixth grade student at the school.
“She was beautiful inside and out,” said O’Cain’s teacher Brenda Pernell. “I never heard her say a bad or unkind thing about anybody.”
O’Cain passed away on Saturday, March 30 at Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson after a short illness.
She is survived by her mother and step father, Stephanie O’Cain Edwards and Shane Edwards; her father and step mother, Marc O’Cain and Pam New O’Cain; her brother, John Marc O’Cain; step sisters, Hanna Picou Smith, Bailey Parker, Maggie Claire Thomas, Ava Grace Edwards, Olivia Edwards and Katherine Edwards; maternal grandparents, Ronnie and Beverly Thweatt; paternal grandparents, Houston and Jennifer Wells and Mike and Jeanie O’Cain. She also leaves behind uncles and aunts and multiple cousins.
Carroll Academy Headmaster Penny Mitchell said students were very upset Monday, and the entire school gathered in the gymnasium for devotion and a word of prayer. She said O’Cain’s brother, John Marc O’Cain, a sophomore at the school, spoke to the student body and described his sister’s recent profession of faith and baptism.
“He called everyone down in a huge circle, and he prayed over everyone,” Mitchell said.
Pernell added, “He was very strong.”
O’Cain publically declared her faith and was baptized on Sunday, March 18.
Pernell said she found O’Cain’s prayer journal as she was gathering her things together.
“She prayed for her [sixth grade] class every day,” Pernell said. “It is a very loving close class.”
Pernell described O’Cain as a “very conscientious student who was worried about her grades.” She said O’Cain was polite and respectful, “with the prettiest smile,” and a good sense of humor.
“She was just a joy to be around,” Pernell said. “She didn’t put on to impress anyone. She was the way you’d want your child to be – considerate, loving.”
Pernell said O’Cain was an excellent student, posting high marks, and she cheered on the peewee cheerleading squad. On March 23, she was crowned Most Beautiful for Carroll Academy’s upper elementary division.
Middle School Science Teacher Brenda Corley said O’Cain was always helpful and sweet.
“She was so sweet,” said Corley, wiping away tears. “She had a really good soul, and she treated everyone respectful. She was just a wonderful kid.”
Corley said when dealing with a tragedy like the loss of O’Cain, children are resilient, but she also feels the loss of O’Cain hasn’t resonated with her classmates yet.
She explained that at the beginning of the week, to avoid the constant reminder of their loss with an empty desk, she allowed her students to pick their own seat. Even when given the choice to sit wherever they choose, the students left O’Cain’s desk empty.
“Even though they could choose, they left it open,” Corley said.
O’Cain’s best friends Hartley Walker and Madelyn Singleton described their friend as someone who loved and respected everyone.
“She treated no one different,” said Singleton. “She always had a big smile on her face.”
Walker said outside of class, Walker enjoyed spending time with her family and friends and her dog, Harley.
“She wanted to be a veterinarian,” Singleton said.
Walker and Singleton displayed necklaces given to them by O’Cain – three pearls on a black cord.
“She gave them to us because we were her forever best friends,” said Walker.
Singleton said O’Cain always told them she loved them, and a recent memory of O’Cain, she said she will cherish. She said the two of them were walking to class, and O’Cain threw her arm around her and said she loved her.
“Then we skipped into class,” Singleton said with a smile.
Walker said she will always remember the many memories she made with her friend, and remembered the last afternoon she spent with O’Cain – as they cheered on the Rebels and O’Cain’s brother, John Marc, on the baseball diamond.
“She said she will always be my friend,” Walker said.
Funeral services for O’Cain were held yesterday at 11 a.m. at Hillview Baptist Church in Greenwood. Classes at Carroll Academy were canceled to allow students to attend the service.
Mitchell said several pastors have offered to assist in counseling students as they grieve for the loss of their friend.
“We have several pastors who help us out – Keith Rammage, Dustin Long, Kevin Smith, and Eddie Carpenter,” Mitchell said. “Our guidance counselor also wants to work with our sixth graders during study hall to answer any questions they have.”
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in memory of Abigail Louise O’Cain.