Tribute to Roni Katzil

Kymia Freeman, Assistant Editor

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Freshman Roni Katzil passed away on the night of Tuesday, Jan. 28 at a mere 14 years old, leaving many in the Venice community grieving and struggling to pick up the pieces of life without her. 

“Roni was the epitome of the definition you find when you look up ‘perfect student’,” said Venice physics teacher Josh Alexander in an Instagram post on Jan. 29, detailing his grief amongst the news of Katzil’s passing.

That same day, the sobering news was delivered to the rest of the Venice community during breakfast in the classroom. Her death, according to her GoFundMe page, was caused by an undetected aneurysm that ultimately left her leaning on life support to survive, came as a shock to all of those who knew her.

For many of Katzil’s friends, including freshman Chloe Denmel, the loss of a close friend or loved one is an experience they have been lucky enough to avoid so far. Upon the passing of one of her closest friends, Denmel and others had to learn to cope without Katzil, who was a staple in their daily routine.

“I remember always seeing her after 3rd period, watching her turn around with that huge smile she always had on her face,” said Denmel, occasionally on the verge of tears while talking. “Sometimes I expect to see her walk towards me like she always used to, and then when she doesn’t, it hits me. It’s been really hard.”

Above all of the painful emotions evoked by Katzil’s passing, the reminders of the person she was and all that she meant to those who knew her prevail in memory.

“She was a person who was able to make friends with anyone,” said freshman Sheida Mokallaei, a Venice soccer player who knew what it meant to know Katzil for who she truly was. 

“Everyone who knew her loved her,” said Mokallaei. “She was selfless, always willing to help people who she never met without expecting anything in return. Before our soccer game against Hami (Hamilton High School) a few days after she passed, we had a moment of silence for her, and it just really broke me.”

Other tributes have been dedicated to Katzil since her passing, including the funeral held on Thursday, Jan. 30, in which Mr. Alexander eulogized what he wrote in the Instagram post referenced before.

“Her spirit just shined in everything she did,” said Mark Gudani, Katzil’s English teacher. “You could tell that she was a naturally shy person, but she was still willing to ask questions and let her authentic curiosity overcome that. She was amazing.”

Several who knew and loved her said the coping process has been an uphill battle, but is one they’re determined to fight to keep the essence of who Katzil was truly alive.

Katzil’s teachers, especially those who had some of her friends in their classes, have been left reeling with not only their personal grief, but with that of their students who are dealing with the loss of one of their closest friends.

“I have had to learn to not only give my students space in dealing with their grief, but to also have my own time to grieve,” said Mr. Alexander. “Myself, Mr. Gudani, and the rest of her teachers got together one day and just took time to think about what this meant for all of us.”

“[There was] so much further she could have gone,” said Mr. Alexander in his eulogy. “[I’m] sad she won’t make more milestones — sad her little siblings won’t be able to watch their big sister soar — sad her mom and dad don’t get to spend any more moments with their baby.”

And above all, Mr. Alexander remembers one thing Katzil said after experiencing her own personal loss, believing that it truly represented what kind of person she was,

“Life doesn’t wait for you, [so] you have to get to know people while you can.”

To donate to Roni’s family during this difficult tome, please visit her GoFundMe page here: