Beaverton's ACMA mourns young dancer
Haruka Weiser's death hits small campus hard, principal says
The close-knit Arts & Communication Magnet Academy is mourning the loss of one of their own as their worst fears were confirmed Thursday morning.
Last June, Haruka Weiser graduated from the Beaverton school with boundless talent as a dancer and student, and Thursday morning police confirmed it was her body found near a creek on the University of Texas campus in Austin.
Twenty-four hours ago, this was a school holding its breath, Principal Michael Johnson said at a news conference on Thursday, just hours after she was positively identified as the victim of a homicide still under investigation in Austin. Today our exhale is filled with sadness and grief.
Julane Stites, the schools director of dance, said Weiser was one of the most successful young dancers to come out of ACMA and its high-level Dance West program for pre-professional students, which she used as a springboard to win a full-ride dance scholarship to UT.
She had many different offers, but that was the best one, Stites said of Weisers scholarship options, one of the largest in ACMA history.
Stites said Weiser, 18, was equally talented in ballet and modern dance and could have forged a career in either. She called her former student spirited and stunningly beautiful.
Stites last saw Weiser a little more than three months ago, when the young dancer was home for the holidays, and said her former student seemed to be finding her way at the large Texas school.
Ive never seen her happier, Stites said at the news conference.
Weisers assault and murder, which apparently occurred as she walked home from the UT drama department on Sunday night, has attracted national and even international attention. Among journalists attending Thursdays news conference was a writer working for People magazine.
Johnson said the Beaverton School District sent several counselors to ACMA to help students and staff alike cope with the sudden loss.
Were a small school, and that means we know each other really well, Johnson said of the 700-student options program for middle- and high-schoolers interested in the arts. Weiser attended all six years.
Weisers sister, Naomi, is an eighth-grader at the school. Their brother, Nobo, is a junior at Sunset High School. The family lives in northeastern Washington County.
Johnson also spoke directly to Stites dance students on Tuesday, when it was Weisers identification as the victim was not yet official but widely suspected.
He ended the talk by asking the students to do what Haruka would want them to do, which is to dance.
Because the news is still setting in, ACMA or the district has not yet set any plans to memorialize Weiser, Johnson said.
By Eric Apalategui
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