EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Juniors Madelyn Fourneir (left) and Kari Betters look at Kristin Gromoske’s picture during a memorial assembly Monday at Menominee High School to honor Gromoske’s memory. The two girls organized the memorial for their best friend with the help of the Leadership Class.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard

Juniors Madelyn Fourneir (left) and Kari Betters look at Kristin Gromoske’s picture during a memorial assembly Monday at Menominee High School to honor Gromoske’s memory. The two girls organized the memorial for their best friend with the help of the Leadership Class.

MENOMINEE — Students at Menominee High School gathered Monday to honor the life of Kristin Hope Gromoske, 17, who died Nov. 9.

Gromoske’s best friends, juniors Madelyn Fournier and Kari Betters, organized a memorial Monday with the help of the students in the high school’s Leadership Class. Students came voluntarily and filled the entire lower level of the auditorium, as well as a fair amount of the upper seats. “I consider Kari and I to be the luckiest people to have been as close as we were to Kristin,” Fournier said, “We share so many memories which make up most of our lives.”

Betters shared the story of how she and Gromoske first met. “We were born in the same hospital at around the same time on the same day. Our parents didn’t know each other at the time, but that’s how we first met,” she said. 

Later on, Betters said their parents found this out, and even found out they had the same babysitters for the two of them. She also said it was Gromoske who brought her and Fournier together.

Fournier said she met Gromoske in first grade. “We would call each other on our home phones every single night after school, and when we were together at school we would make lists in her notebook of things to talk about. We could’ve talked at school, but we used that time to write down things that we were going to talk about later on the phone,” she said.

“Something that is very important that I think should come from this assembly is how Kristin really struggled with addiction. It was a big part of her life for the past few years. If you knew Kristin in those last few years, you wouldn’t know what to expect from her. She was very much not like herself,” Fournier said.

She said there were moments where she would be able to see through to who Gromoske really was, and those moments mean the most to Fournier. She also said Gromoske had recently grown close to people who were struggling with some of the same things, and Gromoske was helping them though it.

“We didn’t want to make this seem like this was a cause of death. Sure, maybe that lead up to her situation, but her death didn’t relate to that in any way,” she said.

The students put together a slideshow filled with pictures of Gromoske from her early school years all the way up through high school, reliving the memories they all had shared with her.

Mat St. Martin, Gromoske’s uncle, said a few words to the students as well. “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood. I struggled in high school; I was able to relate to Kristin those last two years with those issues because I understood those issues. If we’re going to lose someone, we should really all try to better ourselves in the name of that person and learn something from what she was struggling with to better ourselves and our community.”

He said Kristin’s best friends, apart from Betters and Fournier, were her cat and the St. Martin family’s dog, and said she loved them so much because they weren’t judgmental and loved unconditionally. “Human beings judge,” he said, “We can make each other feel amazing, but we can also make each other feel like (garbage). And I think that’s where Kristin was escaping from a lot of the time. That, and being a teenager is hard.”

He encouraged the students to, if they find themselves in a situation where they’re with people talking about someone behind their backs, go to that person instead and get to know them, or just leave them be. “If we just judge a little bit less, I think we’re honoring Kristin in the best way possible.”