SPOKANE, Wash. - Cooper Elementary School is grieving the loss of Gracie Snider, a 10-year-old fourth grader at the school, a star student and soccer player who died in a car accident last weekend while coming home from a game in Yakima.
Cooper Elementary has suffered a great loss, with everyone in mourning. The situation is even more difficult because Gracie's mom Gretchen is the school counselor. She's like the rock of the school, but can't be at school right now. Now students and staff members are leaning on each other and doing what they can to keep Gracie's memory alive.
"We have a desk in our class right now that is empty and it's Gracie's spot," Fourth grade teacher Janelle Campasino said.
"There is a void that is going to be there because she is not there," former teacher Tiffany Santos said.
"Gracie was probably one of the kindest, most amazing children you will ever meet," Cooper Elementary Principal Rona Williams said.
Last week she was running around on the playground, and learning math and science in Ms. Campasino's class.
"I'm so struck at the impact one small little girl had on so many people," Campasino said.
In class Thursday, Campasino asked her students to tell her why they looked up to the 10-year-old.
"What they saw in Gracie was not absolute perfection but they saw her as someone who followed the rules, tried their best and when they made a mistake, she owned up to it," Campasino said.
With a colorful personality, and a smile that would brighten up the room, Gracie loved life.
"Everybody really felt that she was there absolute best friend," Sixth grade teacher David Casteal said.
For the fourth day in a row students are remembering their friend who was competitive, determined, a role model. Her life was short, but her legacy is as big as they come.
"She showed all of my kids, to be the person that they are inside," Campasino said.
Since her passing last weekend, additional teachers have come in to help in the classrooms at Cooper Elementary and counselors have come by every day to be there for the students and staff.
The school is considering different ways to honor Gracie's memory, including renaming the school's community garden to Gracie's Garden and they also want to plant a tree in her honor, one that will blossom every spring in a vibrant color, because that was what Gracie was, always vibrant and colorful.