Community Rallies Around Gorney Family After Ashley Gorney’s Passing

After Spanish teacher Ashley Gorney’s passing, many people have shared their remembrance for her, including memorial services and events being held in her honor.

Ashley+Gorney+with+her+family+at+the+Dig+Pink+volleyball+game+in+October.

Jeni Daley

Ashley Gorney with her family at the Dig Pink volleyball game in October.

Cayla Peacher, Reporter

After a long battle with breast cancer, on March 10, 2022, the Gardner-Edgerton family lost a lively soul and the most compassionate human, Ashley Gorney. Mrs. Gorney taught Spanish 2 and 4 at GEHS for around sixteen years. In addition to her teaching career, Gorney was also the girls’ basketball and volleyball coach. Mrs. Gorney will not be remembered as just another high school coach or Spanish teacher in the 400 hallway; instead, she will forever be remembered as an inspiration. She was a person who was easy to love with a genuinely kind heart. Most importantly, Mrs. Gorney will be remembered as a person who was a friend to all. Ashley was unique and unlike any other person, and throughout her teaching career, she went out of her way to build close friendships with her students in an effort to make students who felt inferior instead feel special, important and included.

“Mrs. Gorney was my teacher for Spanish 2 and 4 and because of her, I like Spanish,” senior Elyea Soileau said. “She just made it easy and she was also a friend to all of her students. I felt like I could talk to her about anything. We would always talk about books because she knew that I had an interest in them and she did too. We would always recommend books to each other; she recommended Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which I am waiting for the right time to read it because it is special to me, just because she recommended it. She is actually the reason that I became interested in reading books. I have just never been so close to a teacher. She was way more than a teacher; she was a friend.”

People who had the opportunity to personally know Mrs. Gorney also had the chance to build relationships with the entirety of the well-known and greatly loved Gorney family, which includes Jerad Gorney, husband of Mrs. Gorney, as well as a teacher for Gardner-Edgerton, and the Gorney children, Jeryn and Ian. 

“Mrs. Gorney taught across the hallway from me for quite a few years, and Mr. Gorney and I coached together for quite a few years,” history teacher and cross-country coach Walt Cochran said. “The Gorney family and I became friends over a long period of time. Both Mrs. Gorney and my wife, Tracy, dealt with and fought breast cancer. Mr. Gorney and I understood what it was like to be the spouse of someone battling breast cancer. My relationship with the Gorney family has evolved over time; Ashley and Jerad are two people that I love very much.”

Ashley Gorney was and will forever be known as someone who lived life to the fullest. There was never a dull moment with the presence of Mrs. Gorney around. She was a risk-taker and always encouraged others to do the same. Many students and staff members can never recall a time when Mrs. Gorney wasn’t smiling or laughing. 

Ashley loved life. Whenever she walked into any room, she was just a breath of fresh air.”

— Walt Cochran

“I remember every time that I would come down the hallway after school ended, she would hear my wheelchair coming and step out of her classroom and into the hallway,” senior Lindsay Cochran said. “Everytime I would see her in the hallway with that big ol’ smile that was so encouraging. She would say ‘Hi, speed-demon,’ and we would always laugh. She made my day every single time that I saw her.”

Mrs. Gorney’s amazing personality radiated throughout the halls at GEHS and was recognized by so many individuals. Ashley will always be known as authentic and beautiful inside and out. The people that never had the opportunity to receive Mrs. Gorney as a teacher, coach, or been able to personally get to know her, missed out on knowing an extremely loving person and will never be able to truly grasp how wonderful of a person she was.

“Ashley loved life,” Walt Cochran said. “Whenever she walked into any room, she was just a breath of fresh air.” 

Due to the large impact that Mrs. Gorney had on so many lives, Gardner-Edgerton High School is creating projects and fundraisers dedicated to keeping Mrs. Gorney’s memory alive. Currently, the high school is hosting a raffle-ticket fundraiser in which all of the proceeds will go towards building a basketball court to celebrate the life of Mrs. Gorney and to serve as an homage to her coaching career. 

“The basketball court will be built in a local park near the Gorneys’ house,” soccer and bowling coach Derek Wilson said. “Anyone can purchase raffle tickets; students, teachers, parents. People can buy their raffle tickets through emailing me at [email protected] or through finding me during school hours. I am on lunch duty on white days, so I am usually easy to find.” 

There will be a varsity soccer game on Tuesday, April 12 at 7 pm, which will be dedicated to Ashley Gorney. The winner of the raffle drawing will also be announced that night and the winner will have the opportunity to sit on the bench with the girls’ soccer team during the varsity game. 

“The soccer stadium will be decked out in pink,” Wilson said. “Players and coaches will be wearing pink jerseys and members of the audience are encouraged to wear pink as well to show further support. We will also have a moment of silence for Ashley during the game.” 

If individuals are not interested in sitting on the bench during the varsity game, people can still donate money and come to the soccer game to support the Gorney family. In terms of raffle ticket prices, one ticket costs three dollars, five tickets costs ten dollars and fifteen tickets costs twenty dollars. 

In addition to the basketball court being built in honor of Ashley Gorney, Student Council has developed memory cards as a way that students and staff can recall memories that they have of Mrs. Gorney. 

“We decided as a Student Council and under Mrs. Kerri Keuser’s leadership that we wanted to do something that could honor Mrs. Gorney, while also paying tribute to Mr. Gorney and their kids,” Lindsay Cochran said. “We just wanted to make sure that the Gorney family knows about all of the memories that students have of Mrs. Gorney, because her family might not know about a lot of them and about the special bond that Mrs. Gorney shared with all of her students, and how much of an encourager she was, so we just wanted to do something that honored her.”

The memory cards will be available to receive in every student’s English class for the next several weeks, but are not required for any student or staff member to fill out. Eventually, once there are enough cards, they will be tied together with breast cancer awareness ribbons and hung throughout the school. 

“After the memory cards have been hung around the school for a while, STUCO will create a book containing all of the memory cards which we will give directly to Mr. Gorney so that the family has copies of all of the memories,” Lindsay Cochran said.