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Teachers pay tribute to students they lost in the Jonestown massacre

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Courtesy of Linda Mertle
'Shekinah Glory' photo by Elmer Mertyl and Al Mills from 'Six Years with God' by Deanna Mertle, Jeannie Mills.

Judy Bebelaar and Ron Cabral were teachers at San Francisco’s Opportunity 2 High School in the 70s. It’s the school Jim Jones chose for the teenagers of his People’s Temple.

Judy taught English and poetry and Ron was the baseball coach. In 1978, they started noticing students disappearing and some never came back. The teens had gone to Jonestown, Guyana as a part of Jim Jones’ cult and many died in the mass murder-suicide in November of that year.

"By remembering those young lives, we honor them, and maybe we even think more carefully about young people even today." - Judy Bebelaar

Judy and Ron remember that time, and their students, in the new book "And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of People's Temple from High School to Jonestown."

Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.