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‘He’s with all of us’: Vigil held for beloved South Hadley teacher Khalsa

  • Third graders Stella Martinez, left, Violet Carillon and Nora Proulx were at the vigil for Parmatma Khalsa, seen in a self-portrait that serves, at right, as a cover for a collection of poems his students wrote about him that was given to his widow.

  • Jai Fuller, wife of Parmatma Khalsa, holds her daughter, Nambani, 4, as she speaks beside her parents, Navjiwan and Amar Fuller, during a vigil for him Tuesday at Mosier Elementary School, where he was a third grade teacher. Her son, Amardas, 13, listens, right. STAFF PHOTOS/JERREY ROBERTS

  • People hold candles during a memorial vigil for Parmatma Khalsa, a third grade teacher at Mosier Elementary School in South Hadley who died in a car accident last week, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019 at the school. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Royanna Law, from left, Karen Rippa and Sheila Nassar release lanterns during a memorial vigil for Parmatma Khalsa, a third grade teacher at Mosier Elementary School who died in a car accident last week, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019 at the school. Law is the grandmother of third grade student Nolan Bonney; Rippa is a fourth grade teacher at the school; Nassar is the school librarian. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jai Fuller, who is the wife of Parmatma Khalsa, speaks while holding her daughter, Nambani, 4, during a memorial vigil for him, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019 at Mosier Elementary School in South Hadley, where he was a third grade teacher. Khalsa died in a car accident last week. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Karen Rippa, left, and Sheila Nassar release a lantern during a memorial vigil for Parmatma Khalsa, a third grade teacher at Mosier Elementary School who died in a car accident last week, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019 at the school. Rippa is a fourth grade teacher at the school; Nassar is the school librarian. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS



Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

SOUTH HADLEY — Hundreds gathered outside Mosier Elementary School on Tuesday for a candlelight vigil in memory of third-grade teacher Parmatma S. Khalsa.

Khalsa, 44, taught at Mosier for four years and was known for his ability to understand his students and foster a love of learning. The Leverett resident died in a two-car crash in South Hadley on Thursday morning, which remains under investigation.

Among those gathered outside of Khalsa’s classroom were family members, students and their parents, and other members of the community. Attendees held candles, wore pins with ribbons on them, and released peace lanterns into the sky.

Khalsa’s wife, Jai Fuller, addressed the crowd that had gathered, telling mourners that she felt “like I’m meeting Mr. Khalsa’s other family.”

Becoming a teacher was deeply fulfilling to he husband, she said, and changed him as a person. 

“He just cared so much about all the children,” Fuller said.

Khalsa was strongly guided by his Sikh faith, Fuller said, adding that their tradition holds that the soul lives on while “the body is just like a house for the spirit, for the soul.” 

“I think he wants all of you to know that he’s OK … He’s with me, he’s with all of us,” she said.

Khalsa knew for a long time that he wanted to be a third grade teacher, said his mother, Rose, but for a time, he didn’t think he could do it and worked as a landscaper instead. When he later became very sick and almost died, Rose said that her son realized it was time to pursue his calling.

“It was during that time that he said that he had to be a third grade teacher,” Rose said, recalling that her son considered it “his mission” and “why I’m here on Earth.”

“So he did,” she continued. “All the doors opened to him, and before you know it, he was here.”

Rose also assured students and others who knew and loved Khalsa that he will remain in their lives in spirit. 

“I want to tell all the students and all the people who are going to miss him, he is everywhere,” she said. “He is all around you. He isn’t gone — he just isn’t here in a body.”

In addition to telling his students that they are loved, Rose said that her son also “wanted to say your souls are so beautiful, and living your life is all about love and joy.”

Community members have come together to support Khalsa’s family and students, launching efforts such as a “Stuffiez” donation drive that collected 440 stuffed animals to distribute to all students at Mosier, 80 stuffied animals for teachers and staff, and $1,925 in cash donations. Students were greeted by the stuffed animals as a surprise at lunch Tuesday.

memorial fund to benefit Khalsa’s wife and children raised over $45,000 as of Tuesday evening; and another fundraiser to redecorate the classroom has raised almost $2,800.