Two and one half years ago, Red Bank Regional High School junior Giana Apreza entered high school as most teens do, excited about the prospects of a new school experience. The youngest of three children, and the only one still at home, she was particularly close to her mother, Cathleen – and although the Neptune City resident loved to write, she did not feel enough confidence to try out for RBR’s Visual & Performing Art Academy’s popular and competitive Creative Writing program; electing instead to attend RBR’s Academy of Finance.
During her freshman year, right around the holiday season, Giana’s world suddenly changed with the tragic, unexpected death of her beloved mother from an undiagnosed heart ailment. Although her family was a great comfort to her — particularly her father, who immediately assumed both parental roles — Giana naturally struggled with her emotions when she returned to school just a few days following her mother’s passing.
“I was all emotion on the surface, boiling over,” she recalls. “It was very difficult for me…(and) it was difficult for friends to understand what you are going through, since they don’t have much experience with trauma and loss. It was hard for them to deal with such raw emotion.”