"Her love was so widespread, her smile and beauty contagious," said Heather Root Wheeler, a relative of Melissa Jenkins, who was murdered a year ago.
"The mood was somber to begin with as you can imagine and expect," said St. Johnsbury Academy Headmaster Tom Lovett. "And I think that as soon as people began to think about Ty, especially, and think about how we move this forward and come out of our grief, I think there was some hopefulness towards the end," Lovett said.
There were performances, tears, and celebrating a life that touched so many.
"Today we celebrate Melissa's gift to us. Her love, her spirit, and her message," Lovett said.
That message was displayed throughout Fuller Hall, and across the rest of campus. It's known as "Melissa's Challenge." A challenge to love those the most who need it the most. It's a phrase many will remember her by, and strive to live by.
"It's hard. We've been trying to focus on the message," Lovett said. "It is really a great message for young people to learn early and they embrace it. Love wins resonated, and loving those the most who need it the most has really changed our school community for the better."
Lizzie Moye was a student while Jenkins taught at the Academy. Moye says the last year has been extremely difficult for her classmates but the phrase has helped many get through this tough time.
"To really love and see the good in people. And I think it is so hard to find something good in such a difficult situation. But I think that helps us do that," Moye said.
A phrase that is helping those in pain to look forward to brighter futures, and begin to help understand a painful past.
"That has overwhelmed me. The hatred that I didn't know I had, it even started to destroy me. But we cannot let evil and hatred win. Because love wins," Meredith Root Berry said. Berry is a cousin of Jenkins.
Moye says that the entire St. Johnsbury community will continue to move forward together and never forget their beloved Melissa Jenkins. And, the phrase she lived by, and will continue to inspire others to live by. Love those the most, who need it the most.
Allen and Patricia Prue, of Waterford, are charged with Jenkins' murder. The trial for Patricia Prue is schedule for this summer.
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