The Upper School gathered on the Great Lawn for a group photo, which will be sent to McKone. (Anthony Leakey)
The Upper School gathered on the Great Lawn for a group photo, which will be sent to McKone.

Anthony Leakey

In Memoriam: Junior Will McKone

December 14, 2018

Will McKone, a St. John’s student since kindergarten, passed away on Nov. 24 after fighting a long battle with an inoperable brain tumor. Will was a member of The Review since his freshman year, a frequent SAC representative, eighth grade class president and a three-sport athlete. He was 17.

Members of The Review share their memories and reflect upon his impact on their lives.

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A true Maverick

Junior SJ Lasley, who first met Will in kindergarten, writes about her experiences with him and how he embodied what it means to be a Maverick.

Will McKone was a Maverick in every sense of the word. He was good, compassionate, respectful and fun-loving. He was a friendly face to everyone who knew him and to those who didn’t.

I met Will around 12 years ago on the first day of kindergarten. He was tiny and blond with the rosiest cheeks I had ever seen. While the rest of us hid behind our parents’ legs and refused to speak to anyone, he came in with one goal in mind: to become everyone’s friend.

In first grade, he regularly performed magic tricks for the whole class. After a magic show, he told me that he knew a “real-life magic trick”: No one ever touches anything because a thin layer of particles surrounds everyone and everything. My tiny six-year-old mind couldn’t comprehend it, and I refused to believe him. He accepted my confusion, didn’t argue and walked toward another one of our classmates to share the same magical finding. I later learned that he was, in fact, correct. I still think about that day and how he managed to know so much at such a young age. He never rubbed it in; he was only interested in sharing his delight and innocent curiosity with others so we could all experience the magic.

Will never changed from my first impression of him: outgoing, smart, compassionate, curious and a leader. Years later, during our fifth-grade graduation ceremony, he received the highest award given to a Lower School student: The Chidsey Award. Since then, any time a big award was to be presented, my friends and I would all turn to each other and say, “Will McKone.” And, sure enough, his name was always called. It became an ongoing joke between me and my friends. It was never a surprise — it was always deserved. That’s the kind of kid he was.

Last year, Will won the Maverick Award. His introduction sums it up perfectly: “Will is that student who is a “game-changer,” one whose very presence in our classrooms, hallways, and on the baseball diamond elevates the level of performance, the level of positive vibe, the level of mature perspective.” While on The Review, Will created some of my favorite videos ever posted on our website, and he won a top-notch award from the National Scholastic Press Association. Again, no one was surprised, and everyone knew he deserved both awards and many more.

In the midst of this tragedy, we will remember him and carry on his legacy. Always on our minds and forever in our hearts. A friend, a classmate and the true definition of what it means to be a Maverick.

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A light in the SJS community

Junior Sophia Lima, a classmate of Will’s, recounts the ways he inspired and brightened the SJS community.

I walked into advisory on the first day of sixth grade as a new student filled with fear, nervousness and a bit of excitement. Since the girls were already sitting together and laughing, I was unsure of where to go. I glanced around the room and saw an open desk next to a short, blond boy. There was a certain friendliness about him that compelled me to take the seat next to him. As we talked about our summers,  I felt my first-day nerves slowly slipping away. His name was Will McKone.

After meeting Will for the first time, I thought he was just a quiet, friendly boy. It was only a matter of time before I realized he was so much more. Will was a one-of-a-kind kid: generous, compassionate, motivated, intelligent. He had an amazing heart and was one of those people who leave a tremendous impact on everyone he meets. Always brightening up everyone’s day, Will’s friendly smiles in the hallway brought the SJS community closer together. His light-hearted nature never failed to bring a positive spirit to the classroom or make someone laugh.

Growing up alongside Will was inspiring. From watching him perform in the musical “Seussical” in sixth grade to enduring our first period of freshman year together in The Review, his spirit never ceased to amaze me. He was an active member in all areas of the SJS community and devoted himself completely to all of his responsibilities, whether it was performing in jazz band or playing football on Skip Lee Field. Even when his health began to decline last year, he had a presence in his classes, always showing interest and asking questions.

Our love for Will came to light when he was elected MSSC president, and I found myself circling his name on the ballot without a second thought when voting for SAC in high school. Will motivated others to be a better person. We will always remember his impact on our community and continue to live out his legacy. We love you, Will.

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Contributions and dedication to The Review

Members of The Review Online’s Video Crew, who worked with Will since his freshman year, reflect upon Will’s personality, work ethic and contributions to the publication.

The best videos that we made with Will were hardly ever uploaded. We got to know him during our first year together on The Review, which was also the inaugural year of the newspaper’s video crew.

While our journalistic output was sporadic, there was never a shortage of ideas. Max Westmark (’17), a video editor, once proposed a nonsensical skit called “Spotlight on Technology,” which featured Will as a hacking genius. This was a serious idea for a video, one that would have been posted on The Review Online. We wrote a script and spent days brainstorming for the project. At one point, we planned a bank robbery sequence and even looked into buying fake mustaches with the newspaper’s budget. While the video never made it past initial filming, we’ll always remember one particular scene: Max directed Will to sit at a computer, type furiously on the keyboard and look straight into the camera and say, “I’m in.”

We had to do seven takes for that one scene. Every time, without fail, Will would look into the camera and burst out laughing — along with everyone else in the room. It was impossible to keep a straight face, and all of us knew it. Like so many of our videos, Will made us enjoy being there. Making videos didn’t seem like work at all.

This isn’t to say that Will wasn’t a hard worker. He was the most decorated member of the video crew, receiving third place last year for best Multimedia Sports Story of the Year from the National Scholastic Press Association and then placing in the top ten again this year for best Multimedia Sports Story Package. There were many times when we would walk into the video room and ask about the status of a project, only for Will to inform us that he had finished and uploaded the entire video. His promotion to editor after his first year on The Review was completely expected. His work ethic was phenomenal, and even when he was sick, Will made every effort to keep helping us.

When it became clear that he wasn’t returning to The Review, we sent Will a short video telling him that we missed him and that he will always have our support. After a couple of days, he sent us a message back, apologizing for not responding earlier and thanking us for taking the time to make the video. The response was classic Will. He wanted to make everyone feel appreciated, regardless of his own concerns.

Will’s plaque for the award he won at NSPA last year still hangs in our room. It’s a constant reminder of his amazing work ethic, fun-loving spirit, and genuine nature. Rest easy up there, Will. We love you.

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About the Writers
Photo of SJ Lasley
SJ Lasley, Online Editor-in-Chief

SJ is a senior, and this is her third year on the Review.

Photo of Sophia Lima
Sophia Lima, Managing Editor-in-Chief

Sophia is a senior, and this is her fourth year on The Review.

Photo of Jack Shea
Jack Shea, Video Editor

Jack is a senior, and this is his third year on The Review.

Photo of Alex Tinkham
Alex Tinkham, Video Editor

Alex is a senior, and this is his third year on The Review. He enjoys doing free-lance videography and viewing indie movies in his freetime.

1 Comment

One Response to “In Memoriam: Junior Will McKone”

  1. Marci Bahr on December 16th, 2018 10:19 PM

    Thank you for your coverage and tributes to Will! This loss has rocked my world…such a sad time
    for the Mavericks and the beloved McKone Family!

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