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Remembering Nicholas: Dozens honor fallen 15-year-old

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Dozens of Bergen Beach teens flocked to Roy H. Mann Junior High School on Wednesday evening for a memorial of 15-year-old Nicholas Gryak, who died the night before after falling from the school’s roof.

Friends of the fallen James Madison High School student lit candles and left stuffed animals at a tree outside the E. 68th Street school, located near Veterans Avenue.

Many more left heartfelt messages on banners taped to a construction fence surrounding the school.

“Rest easy buddy,” wrote Gryak’s friend Claudia. “You were the happiest kid I know.”

Jessica Scherillo agreed.

“You were always the one to tell me to live life and forget the drama,” she wrote.

Gryak, a resident of E. 72nd Street, died on Aug. 9 after he tumbled into a chimney shaft that opened onto the roof of Roy H. Mann Junior High School — falling five stories to the building’s basement.

He and several friends had scaled the construction scaffolding surrounding the middle school earlier in the night. Gryak fell as he and his friends tried to find a safe way down, witnesses said.

Friends said Gryak was an avid baseball fan and skateboarder and said they don’t know what they’re going to do now that they won’t be able to see the teen’s broad smile on a daily basis.

“He was like a brother to me,” said Gryak’s longtime neighbor Justin Clibanoff. “I can’t get over what happened.”

Cops were still investigating just how Gryak fell down the chimney. It also remained unclear how the kids scaled up the construction scaffolding — especially since school officials contend that security guards monitor school grounds each night.

Roy H. Mann JHS has been surrounded by scaffolding and black netting since November, 2010. School officials said facade work on the school should be completed in October.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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