Community gathers to celebrate life of Fayetteville teacher, 27, who collapsed and died

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – He was one of those teachers who meant something to everybody.

Coach Jim Pietrowski, affectionately known as Coach Pie, died earlier this week after collapsing at Max Abbott Middle School in Fayetteville. He was only 27.

The sudden loss has left kids and their families trying to cope.

“Some people have been pretty upset about it,” said student Pierre Young.

Pietrowski taught sixth-grade math and science and coached soccer and football.

“When I saw Jim to tell him the news that he’d be coaching football, his eyes got enormous,” recalled Coach Matthew Holstein. “You would think he’d just won the lottery.”

Hundreds came together Thursday not just to mourn, but to celebrate his life.

Carla Crenshaw192315-192324 “They understand that it’s real, and they will not have the opportunity to be with him or see him anymore. So, it’s very important for us to give them this moment,” said Carla Crenshaw, the school’s principal.

She also said, “The students loved him. He was full of energy full of life.”

Pietrowski was originally from Pennsylvania, and his family came to Fayetteville to share the moment.

His dad had a message to the kids.

“We conversed daily, at least once a day, maybe more. Please make sure you do that with your parents,” said James Pietrowski Sr.

Funeral service have been scheduled for next week in Pennsylvania.

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