Family Starts Scholarship for “Honorary Husky” Killed in Parkland Shooting

By Grace Merritt

4 minutes to read

Alex Schachter would have loved marching in the UConn band.

He would have been thrilled to cheer on Huskies basketball in Gampel Pavilion. And he would have treasured his walks across UConn’s expansive campus on his way to class.

Alex, an athletic 14-year-old who practically lived in a UConn sweatshirt, never made it to his dream college.

Tragically, he was killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14.

Now his family hopes to keep his legacy alive at UConn. They’re starting a scholarship in Alex’s name. They’ve put down seed money and hope to raise enough funds to be able to award the scholarship annually to a student who, like Alex, always wanted to play in the band.

“After this horrible tragedy, we just wanted to try to have something good come of Alex’s death,” Alex’s father, Max Schachter, explained. “We’re hoping that it will keep Alex’s memory alive for years and years to come.”

Alex’s family came up with the scholarship idea after UConn sent them a letter a week after the shooting, offering Alex admission to UConn posthumously. The gesture deeply moved the family.

“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it,” Max said. “It was just wonderful. It lit up my heart. It made us feel that Alex was loved by so many.”

Shortly thereafter, UConn’s band director sent a letter to the family as well. It described the band’s reaction to the news that Alex was accepted posthumously.

“Alex instantly was transformed into one of us,” wrote David Mills, UConn’s director of bands. “The loss, grief and outrage became fresh and real. Alex became one of us, a real person, a trombone player, and someone lost from our band as much as if any one of our members had been ripped from our family. Immediately band members wanted to ‘do something.’ ”

The band made homemade pins with Alex’s name emblazoned on it and wore them prominently at all their performances. They hung a photo of Alex in the practice room and the trombone section left an empty chair for him during rehearsals.

“When I heard about what the UConn band did, I cried, I really did,” said Alex’s aunt, Patti Goldberg, of Southington, Conn. “For UConn to do this just on their own was overwhelming for us.”

By all accounts, Alex was a happy, friendly, likable teen who had lots of friends. A freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, he proudly played the baritone horn and trombone in the high school band. He was a huge basketball fan and played on the town’s recreation league team, which lost three players in the shooting.

Alex’s first exposure to UConn came when he was 5. His aunt and uncle, Patti and Paul Goldberg of Southington, brought him and his brother, Ryan, to visit the campus to help them remember their mother, Debbie Goldberg Schachter ’93 (CLAS), who died when Alex was only 4.

Patti and Paul showed the boys the room where their mother had lived in Northwest residence hall, better known as “The Jungle.” Then they all headed over to the UConn Dairy Barn. When they walked in, Alex’s jaw dropped. Standing at the counter, trying to decide on a flavor, was former husky star and NBA all-star Ray Allen.

Alex smiles for a photo with his brother, Ryan, and former Husky star and NBA all-star Ray Allen at the UConn Dairy Bar.

Alex’s uncle approached Ray and told him that he was Alex’s favorite player. He explained that the boys were visiting from Florida and asked if he could take a photo of Ray with the boys. Ray didn’t hesitate.

“He turns around puts his arms around them,” said Paul Goldberg, Alex’s uncle. “They were in awe. They couldn’t believe it. They could barely walk. Ever since then, Alex had been ‘UConn, UConn, UConn.’ ”

Alex never did get to march with the UConn Band or cheer on the Huskies in Gampel. But this scholarship will help keep his memory alive at a place he loved.

“We’re hoping the impact of the scholarship is that Alex is not forgotten, what happened is never forgotten, and that his legacy is lived through other students,” Paul said.

If you’d like to contribute, go to the Alex Schachter and Family Memorial Scholarship or call 860-486-5000.

Gifts to this fund provide scholarship support for incoming or continuing undergraduate student enrolled in the University’s Marching Band who demonstrates financial need and/or is meritorious.
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