Teacher: Gary boy sweet, energetic

2011-05-05T19:10:00Z 2013-02-19T13:05:18Z Teacher: Gary boy sweet, energeticBy Carmen McCollum nwitimes.com
May 05, 2011 7:10 pm  • 

Christian Choate was a sweet, cute blond-haired little boy with lots of energy, one of his teachers said.

Sheila Bechinski, a first-grade teacher at Hosford Park Elementary School in Gary, said when she had Christian as a student, he was living with his mother and her boyfriend.

"He was a very sweet little boy, high energy like most kids his age," she said.

Bechinski said she often saw the mother's boyfriend who would come to the school whenever requested.

Lake County sheriff's officers unearthed a body at a Gary mobile home park Wednesday that they believe is the missing 13-year-old boy. DNA testing is being conducted to confirm the identity. His father, Riley Choate, is in police custody.

Hosford Park Principal Eric Worthington said Christian was a student at the school in kindergarten, and he was in first grade for two years, suggesting the boy may have been held back.

He started second grade at the elementary school but transferred to Merrillville Community School Corp. in March 2005, officials said. It is unclear if Christian attended a Merrillville school. Some relatives reported the boy was home-schooled at one point.

Lake Ridge Schools records indicate that Christian was initially a student at Longfellow Elementary School in Gary prior to attending Hosford Park. Longfellow Principal Deb Carlson said Christian lived within Longfellow's school boundaries and was listed as a student there briefly, but no one really remembered him.

Carlson said records indicate Christian was transferred to Hosford Park fairly soon in his school career. She said Christian had a half-brother who also attended Longfellow but transferred to Kentucky.

Lake Ridge Superintendent Sharon Johnson-Shirley said she is most disheartened to hear about the loss of any student who attended a Lake Ridge school. She said she is deeply concerned about the number of students who have been "labeled missing but are actually dead."

Merrillville Community School Corp. Superintendent Tony Lux was checking records Thursday to determine if Choate had ever enrolled in the district. He said he was unsure of what, if anything, he would be able to release.

Today, student transfers are tracked through their student test number. The electronic transfer can be done and tracked by computer. If a student is at least in third grade, he or she will have taken ISTEP-Plus and can be tracked from school to school based on those test scores.

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