Rockport Heights Elementary School fifth-grader Bethany Nicole Wallace had the ability to light up a room, Principal Janine Hueter said.
Bethany, 10, of Arnold died the morning of Feb. 28 after suffering a brain hemorrhage at her home, according to a post on a GoFundMe page set up to help her family.
According to that GoFundMe page, Bethany said she was not feeling well at about 7:30 a.m. and then complained of a headache at about 7:40 a.m. She died at about 7:45 a.m.
Arnold Police were called to the home at 7:54 a.m., and Bethany was transported by Rock Township Ambulance to SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis, where she was pronounced dead, Arnold Police reported.
“She was just so happy all of the time,” Hueter said of Bethany. “She had a lot of friends. She was a great student, caring, loved animals. She was very artistic. She was a great kid. She was a leader.
“We are struggling right now. We are going to do everything we can to keep her memory alive and help support the family in any way they can.”
A visitation is scheduled for 4-8 p.m. today (March 5) at Messenger Church, 602 Summit Road, in Fenton, and funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday (March 6) at the church. She will be buried at Shepherd Hills Cemetery in Barnhart.
Bethany was the daughter of Nathan and Stephanie (Byerly) Wallace. She had two brothers: Ricky and Josiah, who had attended Rockport Heights, Hueter said.
“We have known the family for quite some time,” Hueter said. “They are a great, active family in our Rockport community.”
After the school got word about Bethany’s death on Feb. 28, Hueter said she talked with the family. She said she told the girl’s teachers first and then informed the rest of the school community.
Hueter said she contacted the parents of Bethany’s closest friends, and then those students were informed with their parents and grief counselors by their side.
“We didn’t want any student to go home and find this out on social media or anything like that,” Hueter said. “We wanted to make sure there was an adult with the kids when they found out.”
In addition, Hueter said she sent a message about Bethany’s death to all parents before the end of school that day.
When classes resumed Monday (March 2), Hueter said school counselors; counselors and therapy dogs from Comtrea; grief therapy dogs from Lutheran Church Charities; and counselors from Annie’s Hope, a bereavement center in St. Louis, were at the school to help students deal with their loss.
“Our Fox C-6 School district community is just amazing,” Hueter said. “In the matter of a phone call, we had numerous counselors from our district at the school to offer guidance for our parents, kids and staff. We have such a strong community within our district and so many resources to help our kids and families. I have never been so proud of our district. I felt like I was 100 percent supported and given the resources necessary to handle such a tragic and sad situation at our school.”
Hueter said the Lutheran Church Charities’ therapy dogs will be at tonight’s visitation, and the school will have additional counselors available for students again on Friday.
“We know (Friday) is going to be a tough day,” Hueter said. “We know for some kids it will be the first time they have been to a funeral of a child. It will be a tough day for those kids who went to the visitation or are planning to attend the funeral.”
Hueter said some of Bethany’s friends created a design for T-shirts that will be sold to raise funds for the Wallace family.
The powder-blue shirts will feature the phrase, “Team Bethany,” and a picture of a dove and branch with flowers on the front, as well as the phrase, “Fly High Bethany,” on the back. The shirts will be sold for $10, and $7 of each sale will go to the GoFundMe fundraiser for the Wallace family.
The other $3 will go to Oddball Ink, an Arnold screen-printing business owned by a Rockport parent who is providing the shirts at cost, Hueter said.
The GoFundMe page, called “In Remembrance of Bethany” (gofundme.com/f/bethanywallace), had brought in $20,355 as of this afternoon.
Hueter said those interested in buying a shirt may call the school at 636-464-2010. In addition, order forms are available at the school, 3871 Jeffco Blvd., in Arnold; on the school's Twitter page; and on the Rockport Heights’ parents club Facebook page.
“(The shirt) was designed by the kids and is a kid-driven idea,” Hueter said. “The kids did a fabulous job.”
A memorial tile in honor of Bethany will be added to the school’s memorial garden. Hueter said two other students have been memorialized in the garden.
“We are grieving as a school family and community,” Hueter said. “(Bethany) meant a lot to our school. She is going to be deeply missed.”
Rockport Heights Elementary is part of the Fox C-6 School District.