Friends hold tight to memory of freshman named homecoming queen before losing battle with thyroid cancer

by: JAIME VALDEZ - A group of Beaverton High School students form a prayer circle on Tuesday afternoon outside the school in remembrance of Maddie Lauer, a freshman who died on Sunday. Many dressed in purple shirts and ribbons to represent Maddie's favorite color.Even in the last days of her life, Maddie Lauer displayed a joy and kindness that her Beaverton High School classmates — who selected her as the school’s homecoming queen less than a month ago — will never forget.

“There was a light she gave off,” said Casey Wise, a junior who recently visited Maddie in her room at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. “When I last saw her, she still had those rosy cheeks. She smiled even through the hardest times.”

Isabel Andrich, a freshman, agreed with her friend’s assessment. “She never shared that she was scared at all,” Andrich said.

Maddie Lauer died Sunday, surrounded by a bevy of friends and family members in her hospital room. For almost a year, she battled a rare form of thyroid cancer — typically associated with older women — diagnosed on Nov. 23, 2011.

On Monday and Tuesday, hundreds of Beaverton High students demonstrated their love and support for Maddie and the Lauer family by donning purple shirts and ribbons bearing Maddie’s name at school. Purple was Maddie’s favorite color.

“Purple signifies qualities like royalty, strength, bravery,” Wise said at school Tuesday afternoon. “It’s kind of ironic that was Maddie’s favorite color.”

Although her condition kept Maddie out of school much of this fall, the 14-year-old freshman rallied the week leading to the school’s Oct. 12 homecoming celebration. Nominated one of three “princesses” in her freshman class, Maddie made Beaverton High history when she was crowned the school’s 2012 homecoming queen. It was the first time in anyone’s memory — possibly in the school’s 105-year history — that the honor did not go to a senior girl.

“It’s a longstanding tradition that a senior gets the honor,” said Shelli Kennedy, whose daughter Emma is Maddie’s friend and former classmate. “That was a pretty cool statement that the kids voted her in.”

Ninth-grader Juliette Rousseve said a covert campaign — via texting, email and social media outlets — started building in the weeks before homecoming to nominate Maddie as a class princess.

“We didn’t know she would be queen,” she said.

Freshman Emma Egan played soccer with Maddie. Calling her a “really good goalie,” Egan was in on the electronic-based buildup to her friend’s homecoming triumph.

“There was a huge group text that started with about 30 people who kept forwarding the message to vote for Maddie,” she said.

Freshman Isabel Andrich said Maddie was thrilled to be named a princess, but had no idea she was in the running for the crown.

“She didn’t have a clue,” Andrich said.

Kendall Walters, who joined about 10 purple-shirted fellow students in a prayer circle outside the school on Tuesday, spoke of how heartened she was when Maddie rallied in the weeks leading up to homecoming.

“For two weeks straight, she was really good, but she didn’t come to school for two weeks after that,” she said. “I’ve never seen someone who has such compassion” as JAIME VALDEZ - The sign outside Beaverton High School this week reflects the extensive outpouring of emotion and support from the student body for Maddie Lauer, who died from cancer on Sunday.

Feeling the love

Maddie’s parents, Andrea and Dan Lauer, visited the school Tuesday afternoon to thank students and faculty for their support, which included a huge, paper-covered table in the cafeteria chock full of messages from her classmates.

While it wasn’t in her oldest daughter’s character to seek out high-profile accolades, Andrea Lauer said Maddie was nonetheless thrilled by the love directed her way in the homecoming campaign.

“The whole homecoming thing was amazing,” she said, noting Maddie was at a doctor’s appointment when she was named a princess. “Keep in mind the princess-queen thing was definitely not on her list of things to do in high school. But she was so tough. She sat up and said ‘I’m going with it!’ She was so thrilled.”

Andrea and Dan Lauer said they were touched by the amazing show of love and support, which extends to schools such as Southridge High and beyond.

“In a time like this, it just feels really good to know how much Maddie was loved,” Andrea said. “Not just by us. We were proud of her, but she was here with (her classmates). She was part of the school. It means a lot. We just have an amazing community.”by: JAIME VALDEZ - Claire McCann, who is a freshman at Beaverton High School, recalls her visit with classmate Maddie Lauer at the hospital before she died on Sunday of thyroid cancer.

A friend to remember

Beaverton High School Principal Anne Erwin, who met Maddie soon after she joined the school staff in July, said the girl’s connection with classmates and faculty was immediate.

“She always had a tremendous smile,” Erwin recalled on Tuesday. “The support, love and honor for her during homecoming was quite telling. In the short time I’ve been here, the school has shown to be a tremendously strong community.

“This school celebrates its accomplishments together. We also have challenges, and this school rises to those challenges together. Today, this is a school that’s grieving together.”

Freshman Natasha Vartanian has known Maddie since their childhood days at Raleigh Hills Elementary School. While she knows she won’t physically see her friend at school again, she knows Maddie will still be around — particularly in the Whitford Park neighborhood where they grew up.

“I’m used to seeing her in certain places,” Vartanian said. “There is a bus stop in front of her house. To me, that’s always going to be Maddie’s house. Nothing’s going to change about that when I see that house.”

Maddie’s family is still discussing plans for her memorial service. Whatever they do, Andrea said, will be a reflection of the light Maddie always shined on her classmates, friends and family members.

“The service needs to be a celebration. Because that’s what Maddie was all about.”

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine