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In Memory of Shykia Ward-Reese
Memorial service, candlelight vigil held for Renfroe student
March 31, 2018
On March 27, over 300 community members gathered in remembrance of the life of Shykia Ward-Reese, 14. Ward-Reese, who passed away early Sunday morning, attended Renfroe Middle School.
Her friends, classmates and family members attended the memorial service and candlelight vigil held in the courtyard behind Ebster Recreational Center at 400 W Trinity place on Tuesday, alongside other Decatur city workers, students and parents.
After an opening prayer and song, the microphone stand at the center of the courtyard was opened up for audience members to come speak.
Former Mayor Elizabeth Wilson and Decatur parents spoke, a poem was read by senior Faiza Haji, and an offering of cheerleading pom-poms were placed on Ward-Reese’s memorial stand by Decatur High Cheerleading Coach, Saadia Foy. But many of those who came up were classmates of Shykia’s at Renfroe, where Jana Johnson-Davis teaches eighth grade.
“The past [few] days have been rough,” she said. “You see students crying in the hallway. Some students who had classes with Shykia are hesitant to come into the classroom and sit next to what used to be her desk. It’s a somber mood at Renfroe.”
Johnson-Davis taught Ward-Reese and mentored her in her afterschool program, Young Ladies of Excellence (YLOE), and described her as a “warm spirit.” She and her husband, Mawuli Davis, helped put together and hosted the community event.
“I felt like I close relationship with Shykia,” Johnson-Davis said. “She will be missed in YLOE and her in her classes by students and staff.”
Aside from YLOE, Ward-Reese was also a member to the Renfroe band and track team, and looked forward to participating in cheerleading at the high school in the fall. Her english teacher, Shelby Coffin, read aloud an essay which Ward-Reese wrote earlier this year on the subject of forgiveness, which can be seen below. Many speakers at the memorial service mentioned her smile, sense of humor and ability to cheer others up or brighten a room when recalling experiences with her.
Near the end of the service, her stepmother, father, and other relatives thanked friends and strangers alike for their presence at the memorial, before the event was closed with candle lighting, prayer and song.
Check out the gallery below for pictures from the event.
Photos by Ashley Seaborn, Maxime Tirouvanizam, and Gadedj Sy.