One by one, the fifth-graders walked in front of their classmates at School 57, reading their hand-scribbled thoughts from the heart about their former classmate, 11-year-old Tracey Ransom.
"Everybody would want her back, even for a couple of seconds, just to say good-bye and tell her how much she meant to us," Stephanie Elbert said. "And I bet up in Heaven, she wants us to be like her."
Broadway Village Elementary on Swinburne Street held a memorial service Thursday to celebrate the life of Tracey, who was killed Feb. 21 along with her brother, Troy, 4, in a fire in their Fillmore Avenue apartment.
"It was a major shock, and the children have never quite brought closure to the whole idea," Principal Catherine Benjamin explained. "This gave them a chance to express their own thoughts and come together as a class."
Teacher Susan Jousma and her students from Room 101 remembered Tracey as a caring, spirited girl, with a penchant for cheering others up.
"Tracey was the embodiment of what a cheerleader is," said Mary Roche, a fifth-grade teacher and cheerleading coach. "She always had the spirit, the enthusiasm, the love of life and the love of what was going on in School 57."
Mrs. Benjamin announced the formation of the Tracey Ransom Scholarship Fund, endowed with contributions from the school's staff. The names of the sixth-grade recipients each year will be inscribed on a plaque that reads: "Tracey Ransom: 1983-1995. A well-behaved student. A friend to all. Responsible beyond her years. A model child missed by all."
After the brief service, students crowded around Tracey's family, to give them their hand-written thoughts and the pictures they drew.
One of those pictures, depicting Tracey's and Troy's new home at "100 Heaven," brought tears to the eyes of their mother, Gwen McKines.
"The students were great," she said. "I didn't know they cared about her that much."
Students throughout the school took another lesson home with them.
"I always tell them that every class is a family, and every teacher is a parent," Mrs. Benjamin said. "That family in Room 101 is dealing with the loss of Tracey."