CYPRESS ( — A teacher’s sudden death has sent his junior high school into an emotional tailspin.

Richard Barrington was a beloved and well-respected science teacher.

He passed following back surgery.

Students at Lexington Jr. High School are having trouble coming to grips with his loss.

CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Stacey Butler spoke to the devastated students and Barrington’s colleagues.

Hanna Gardner said, “Everyone misses him. Out of all my teachers, he was everyone’s favorite.”

Sierra Steinberger added, “None of us are gonna be the same without him.”

To the students, he wasn’t just their science teacher.

As Butler describes it, he was everything — their entertainment, their mentor, their friend.

Ryan Roth appreciated the entertainer. “In class he’d always be moving around and laughing and making jokes.”

Steinberger said, “He meant a lot to all of us. Everyone here.”

Early this morning, the school informed the student body that their 36-year-old teacher and mentor died unexpectedly during a routine surgery.

Parent Tina Decristofaro is still in shock. “It was such a simple surgery. Now he’s gone. We can’t believe it.”

Tonight, dozens of students and their parents held a candlelight vigil for Barrington — for the mark he made on the school and in their hearts.

Students have also left flowers and notes in his classroom. Most of them mention how much Barrington will be missed. Others posted mention of condolences and sadness on his Facebook wall and his Instagram page.

Said a student, “He was more than just a teacher. He was family to us.”

Barrington recently won a “Scream in Space” contest. A satellite with his recorded scream will be launched into orbit.

The students who thought what was once a funny scientific experiment, is now a fitting tribute to the teacher who will, in a way, be orbiting above them and looking down on them.

Mr. Barrington may be gone in a physical sense. But it is clear from talking to the students, he is never going to be gone.

Travis Ramsdell said, “It wasn’t his time to go. Not at all.”


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