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Jun 24, 2016 7:58 PM

North Salem Elementary School honors life of young student who died from cancer

SALEM — It’s a sight that truly takes your breath away. The fence in front of North Salem Elementary School is lined with balloons, butterflies, and pinwheels, and in big bold letters you can see the name "AVA."

“She was a rock star here. Everybody knew who she was, she smiled and was pleasant a wonderful to everybody so everybody knew who she was and was impacted by her,” said Janice Wilkins, North Salem Elementary School Principal.

Ava died Monday after a 2 1/2 year-battle with brain cancer. The impact she made on her school is clear, as Thursday night, a group of teachers decorated the pavement and bricks with vibrant drawings and messages for their young angel to see from up above.

“We celebrated, we cried, and we created in her honor and memory,” Wilkins said.

Friday, people started showing up with their own balloons and added new drawings.

In a video posted to the Ava’s Army Facebook page in December, Ava blows a kiss and says “I love you.” It was seen by the thousands of people who rallied behind the bright young girl throughout her battle with cancer.

Ava was loved by all of these people, but especially by her fathers Jeffrey and Michael, and her sister Ella.

On their page they wrote about Ava’s passing saying in part:

“Although we will miss her every day, her incredible smile will forever remain in our hearts. We hope that her memory will continue to inspire people and encourage everyone to live in the moment, take nothing for granted and celebrate the littlest achievements in life."

Visitation hours are to be held Saturday, June 25, 2016, from 12-5 pm at Cataudella Funeral Home, 126 Pleasant Valley St., Methuen, MA. There will be a Celebration of Life June 26, 2016 at 11 a.m. at Windham High School, 64 London Bridge Rd., Windham, NH, where people are urged to dress as their favorite super hero or princess.

The memorial at the school will serve as a way for the students and their families to begin to heal.

“A sense of closure for some of them, a sense to be able to express how they feel,” Wilkins said.

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