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In the eyes of his friends and teachers, Michael Santiago was a caring and giving student, a music lover, and a barbecue ribs enthusiast.
"Dude i know your up there in heaven makin' those delicious ribs you bbq'd last summer!! save some for me when i come up there please," Fabian Faber wrote on Michael's memorial Facebook wall. He changed his profile photo to include a somber photo of himself wearing a Michael Santiago bracelet.
Katie Rose found herself thinking of Michael while scrolling through her iTunes library. "I'm realizing how many of these bands you introduced to me, or encouraged me to look into more. I miss ya.."
The 17-year-old after collapsing during a Fairfax Police Youth Club rugby match in Fredericksburg last Sunday. The news was difficult to bear for the 2,340 fans on the "RIP Michael Santiago" Facebook page, as well as those who taught the ever-smiling, smart senior at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax City.
“It sounds cliché but he ALWAYS had a big smile," said Jean Wheeler, advisory (homeroom) teacher at PVI. "He would come into Advisory everyday and sit with the boys and they would chit chat away and he was always, always smiling with that great smile of his. That’s what I remember most about him. He was a great advisee and a great kid and he truly will be missed.”
"Michael was a perceptive, intelligent and people-oriented individual," said Tom Hedderson, physics and astronomy teacher at PVI. "He was motivated, capable, well-rounded and had an acute ability to relate to people.”
"I was going to surprise ya come rugby season if you guy played us, McLean/Langley, but i never got the chance," wrote Xuan Do, one of many rugby players and coaches who posted their condolences on Michael's Facebook page. "I cannot believe this is how i hear about ya for the first time in a long time... hope its good where your at, easy, breezy, maybe even your still playing rugby."
Michael will be put to rest at 1:30 p.m. on Friday at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church where he was an active parishioner. PVI will close that day to free students and teachers for the service.