A graduation to remember at WHS

At this Sunday’s graduation the WHS Class of 2013 paid a tribute to classmate Mikayla Hoefft, who died in a car crash in 2011. At left, many classmates wore purple ribbons on their gowns and purple armbands in her honor.

“Life brings tears, smiles and memories. The tears dry, the smiles fade, but memories last forever.”

Those words carry special significance for members of the Waterloo High School Class of 2013. Not only is it the official class quote, but it reminds them of a deceased classmate who was not able to walk up and grab her diploma with them at graduation.

Mikayla Lynn Hoefft died from injuries sustained in a car crash near Valmeyer on Aug. 12, 2011. But she was with them in spirit on Sunday. Her mother is convinced of that.

“We all know she was definitely with us that day,” Lisa Huebner said. “I could see her smiling down.”

In a touching tribute, Hoefft was remembered by many classmates who wore purple ribbons on their gowns and purple armbands in her honor.

Purple was not only Hoefft’s favorite color — it was the official class color along with silver and black.

Following along with the class quote, the armbands — which Huebner ordered and offered to all graduating classmates who wished to wear one — contained Mikayla’s full name and the words “Memories Are Forever.”

Waterloo High School graduate Bryan Lutman presents a vase of purple roses to Mikayla Hoefft’s grandmother, Pam Foster, during commencement. (Kermit Constantine photo)

“Most of the students took one,” Huebner said.

Senior class adviser Cheryl Martens said several students recently approached her and expressed a desire to do something in Mikayla’s honor at graduation.

“We wanted tasteful, appropriate and subtle,” Martens said. “I hope that’s how it appeared.”

Some of Hoefft’s closest friends, Samantha Ellis, Lauren Sendelbeck, Elizabeth Garner and Bryan Lutman, worked with Martens to think of the purple ribbons, as well as a presentation of purple roses to the family.

Lutman compiled a list of Hoefft’s 60 closest classmates, and roses were given to those students at the start of Sunday’s commencement.

“As they went up to accept their diplomas, each person with a flower put his or hers into one of the two vases at the base of the stairs,” Martens said. “Once the last person had placed hers in the vase, four of Mikayla’s closest friends took the vases to Mikayla’s mom and her grandmother (Pam Foster).”

In addition to Huebner and Foster, other family members were in attendance for the emotional tribute, including Mikayla’s maternal grandmother, Carolyn Henry.

“It was really just overwhelming,” Henry said. “It’s nice that they would do so much.”

Huebner said she was touched by the kind efforts of her late daughter’s classmates.

“It was very comforting to see how much everybody still thinks of her,” she said. “She really meant a lot to a lot of people.” After all, the memories last forever.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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