ANDERSON, Ind. — Many Highland Middle School students and staff never met Suncerria Uditsky.
After all, the 12-year-old was part of the Highland family for such a short time — just two weeks — before she died in a tragic bicycle accident last Friday.
Despite being a fresh face in the halls, students and staff honored Suncerria's memory this week, raising more than $1,500 in cash donations and $300 in gift cards as well as a food basket to support her family through their grief.
Between 400 and 500 students made donations of $2 each to participate in "hat day" on Friday. Normally, they can't wear hats on campus, but during lunch dozens donned hats of all shapes, sizes, styles and colors.
And everyone who donated was given a pink or purple wristband to wear, Suncerria's favorite colors, Highland Principal Kelly Durr said.
She said the money would be used to help pay funeral or living expenses
"I met her one time," said Mason Barnett, a seventh-grade student. He said Suncerria sat and ate lunch with him and a friend, who was celebrating her birthday.
"When I found out they were raising money for the family I thought I should help because people were really sad about what happened to her," said Colton Brooks, an eighth-grader. "I wanted to help support her family with the trouble they went through."
"She just came to school and nobody really got to know her," said Dakotah Alumbaugh. "It was just so sad because you didn't realize it (the accident) was going to happen."
David Ellis, Suncerria's sixth-grade math and science teacher, said after two weeks in class she was just starting to adjust and make friends. He was beginning to know her personality and abilities, too.