TEMPE, Ariz. – Last year’s Manhattan High student body president died in a bizarre accident early Sunday morning.
Naomi McClendon, 18, fell from the 10th-floor balcony of a student housing apartment building near the campus of Arizona State University.
“Our hearts are heavy with sadness,” said Michele Jones, USD 383 director of communications and school safety.
Naomi was the was the daughter of Nate McClendon, director of orchestras at MHS, and Judy McClendon, a teacher in the school’s language arts department.
Tempe police and firefighters responded to a call around 2:45 a.m., and McClendon was taken to a hospital, where she died.
Authorities said that McClendon, a freshman, did not live the building where the accident occurred.
Police reported that alcohol appeared to be a factor, and according to witness interviews and surveillance footage, McClendon had been at a party and was drinking.
Video footage showed her appearing on the balcony of the apartment and stumbling. She apparently got too close to the edge and fell over.
News of the tragedy stunned the MHS community, and principal Greg Hoyt announced at the school Monday that grief counseling would be available for anyone requesting it.
Besides serving as student body president as a senior, McClendon was involved in several activities at MHS and was considered one of the school’s brightest achievers.
“She was in everything and did everything,” said Kristy Nyp, the advisor to the school yearbook and newspaper. “She could do anything.”
McClendon appeared on 11 different pages of the Blue M yearbook in her last year.
She was a successful orator on the debate and forensics teams, including making the final rounds of the competition with her original oration on the subject of talent as a senior.
As a junior, she was a member of the forensics team that won the 6A state championship.
She worked as the entertainment page editor on the staff of The Mentor, the school newspaper, took a trip to Kenya with Amnesty International on a service project and was a singer and keyboardist of a rock band called Fuma that won the “Battle of the Bands” contest in her junior year.
McClendon’s senior portrait was accompanied by a caption naming her “Most Likely to be a Rock Star Female.”
She was also a member of the flag-carrying team that was part of the marching band performance at halftime of football games and other events.
Naomi’s brother, Nathan, is a sophomore at MHS.