Students gather outside Mullumbimby High School on Monday morning.
Students gather outside Mullumbimby High School on Monday morning.

Students in emotional peaceful tribute to Jai

A planned angry mass walk-out of Mullumbimby High School students on Monday to protest against bullying turned instead into a peaceful and emotional tribute to 15-year-old Jai Morcom, who died after a playground fight at a morning recess last Friday.

Earlier outside the school, Jai’s father, Steve Drummond, surrounded by a media scrum, had made an impassioned plea for calm.

“Let’s remember my beautiful boy,” he said.

“Let’s find peace in our hearts.

“The issue here is to find peace and to pay respect to my son, not to vent our anger.”

Later at Heritage Park where hundreds of students and parents had gathered, Mr Drummond said it was an appropriate display of love and respect for his son.

With a big police and media presence, emotions were running high at the school when students started arriving on Monday morning.

Many of the students carried floral tributes for the Year 9 student who died after being caught up in the fight, allegedly over possession of a playground table.

The death attracted nationwide media coverage and also reignited the debate about schoolyard bullying and whether it was a problem at the school.

While some parents said it was, the school’s P & C Association rejected the notion of a culture of violence at the school.

Jai, who was described as a loving, easy-going ‘peace maker’, died in the Gold Coast Hospital on Saturday morning, just 24 hours after he sustained serious head injuries during a schoolyard fight.

His mother, Kim Morcom, told ABC North Coast that the whole community was upset and grieving for her son who had many friends.

Ms Morcom said she had sent him off to school on Friday not realising it would be the last time she would see him alive.

On Monday morning, while many students were crying and clinging to each other, others hurled abuse at media telling them to ‘f... off’ and ‘leave us alone’.

Earlier on Monday morning, Inspector Owen King told a media conference at the Mullumbimby Police Station that police were continuing their investigation into what happened on Friday.

“A fight broke out at the school involving two students, but Jai was not one of those students,” Inspector King said.

“There was never an all-in-brawl.”

Inspector King said there were so many conflicting stories that were just not true, including one that Jai had a pre-existing medical condition and wasn’t feeling well on the day of the fight.

“It’s way too early to be talking about laying charges yet, but of course investigations are continuing with students and teachers being interviewed by police,” Inspector King said.

Jai’s family has organised a public memorial service at Heritage Park on Saturday starting at 11 am.

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