Community mourns loss of ‘bubbly,’ ‘caring,’ ‘joyful’ pre-K teaching assistant

Pre-K teaching assistant Ariyana Jones with a group of ASE students during the summer of 2010 on their Halloween Dress-Up Day. (Photo used by permission of Joy Pangilinan)

Loving, happy, good, bubbly, caring, joyful – all words used to describe pre-K teaching assistant Ariyana Jones, who was shot in her home on Dec. 1.

Her husband, Marcus, and her two children, Lola and Marc, were unhurt.

The service for Jones will take place on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 10 a.m. at Arcade Church (3927 Marconi Ave.), followed by a private family burial.

In honor of Jones – or “Banana,” her camp-counselor nickname – a group of faculty created and distributed yellow ribbons attached to pins.

Third-grade teacher Kristi Mathisen, senior Alexa Mathisen’s mother, bought the supplies for the pins. Alexa and teacher Patricia Jacobsen made the pins, which Alexa handed out.

Jacobsen’s children, fifth-grader Kaitlyn and Marco, a kindergartner, were close to Jones.  

“Ariyana was Kaitlyn’s camp counselor at the time and Marco’s pre-K teacher for both years he was in pre-K,” Jacobsen said,

“We would take our kids to the park, and I would give her Marco and Kaitlyn’s hand-me-down clothes and toys.”

“She was such an important part of my kids’ lives.”

There is currently a GoFundMe page for Jones’s family that has raised $92,665.

The money will go to funeral expenses and support for Jones’s children. Some parents have even volunteered to help Jones’s husband invest the money for the children.

Jacqueline Chao
Senior Alexa Mathisen hands out yellow ribbons to seniors Aidan Cunningham and Emil Erickson and junior Theo Kaufman.

There are also grief counselors and therapy dogs on campus, and parents have provided lunch for the faculty all week.

Sophomore Gabi Alvarado and freshman Monet Cook remember Jones back when she was a camp counselor.

“Every time my mom would be running late and I would be the last person at camp, Ariyana would always stay and help me with homework or play Uno with me,” Cook said.

“It meant so much to me because I would be sad when my mom was late.”

Alvarado also experienced Jones’s compassion.

“I remember I hated going to ASE with a passion, and she would always seem happy to see me,” Alvarado said.

“She would talk with me about my day, my homework (and) the book I was reading.”

Alvarado recently wrote a blog post and poem about Jones.

Sophomore Tori Van Vleck met Jones only a few times when she visited the pre-K for a yearbook story. Regardless, Van Vleck said she could tell how much Jones cared for the students.

“She was strict, but you could tell she really cared for the kids, and it was obvious they felt the same about her,” Van Vleck said.

Sophomore Chardonnay Needler, who was a regular at ASE, also grew close to Jones.

“I would go to ASE as a kid because my dad worked, and she would always be there,” Needler said.

“She would always ask me what I would have for dinner and talk about her kids.

“She had this amazing sense of humor. She could laugh at herself.”

Jacobsen said that when she heard that Jones had died, her first reaction was disbelief.

“When I heard my mom died, that was believable,” Jacobsen said. “She was older; she was not healthy.”

“But Ariyana was such a good person. She was always so happy, and I cannot remember her saying a bad word about anything or anyone.”

News of Jones’s death affected other people in different ways. Needler’s first reaction was confusion.

“I thought, ‘Why her of all people?’” Needler said.

“‘Why did someone want to make her not be on this world anymore? What was the motive? Who was it?’”

“I knew her well, and I can see her face and smile and her person inside and outside.

“Now, I will never see her again, never hear her again, and that (is) very strange. There’s no way to really describe these expressions and feelings.”

Cook said she didn’t know what to say or think when she learned of Jones’s death.

“I kind of blanked out,” Cook said.

“I was shocked,” Alvarado said. “I cried a lot. I was devastated. I think we all were.

“You don’t meet people as good as Ariyana very often.”

By Allison Zhang

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