Martin High School senior remembered as ‘lighting up room’

Ryan Lewis, Editor

Martin Public Schools students and staff last week mourned the death of high school senior Mahrijana Maya.

Superintendent David Harnish said law enforcement informed him Saturday, Jan. 13, that she had died due to complications from her current illness. He said she had missed some school with flu-like symptoms at the latter part of the prior week.

“It’s just a sad situation,” Harnish said. “She was a good student, a social butterfly, a real sweetheart. She could light up a room; she was a real people person.”

He said the administrative leadership team made preparations the next day to make sure counseling was available for students and staff last week.

Harnish said despite the tragedy the district fortunately had not yet seen increased numbers of illnesses this winter.

“I know the flu virus only lasts about 24 hours on surfaces, but as a precaution we had custodial staff clean the building,” he said.

He said he was advising students and staff of all the usual practices for helping avoid illness, including getting flu shots, washing hands often, and maintaining proper rest and diet.

Flu rates countywide are beginning to spark concern with the Allegan County Health Department. It put out a health advisory Jan. 16 noting it was seeing an increase of influenza and respiratory illnesses throughout the county and state.

“It’s not too late to get your flu vaccine,” said Angelique Joynes, the health department’s health officer, “If you are sick with flu like symptoms, remain home to reduce spread to others.

“Lastly, cover your cough and wash your hands often.”

To find nearby flu vaccination clinics, visit

Mahrijana transferred to Martin for this school year from Otsego High School. The principal there, Herve Dardis said she was still very connected to the school district community.

“It was very devastating,” Dardis said. “Mahri was a tremendous young lady with a warm personality and a lively spirit.

“She enjoyed every day and loved to be with people who did the same. With a contagious sense of humor and a huge heart, she went out of her way to make sure that everybody else was OK.”

He said the district still considered her part of the school family.

“When she came to visit for a game or dance or concert, it was like she had never left,” Dardis said. “Everybody was so happy to see her. Mahri was one of those special people who just make life better for the rest of us, and we will miss her dearly.”

Harnish said Mahrijana’s family had said they also received tons of support from friends and family.

“If anything, it helps to keep her family in our prayers,” Harnish said. “I know it’s been hard for them—hard to imagine losing one’s child—but they said they’re receiving a lot of support from different people and that’s good.”

Contact Ryan Lewis at or (269) 673-5534.


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