WESTMINSTER, Colo. — High school graduates paid tribute to their elementary school classmate, Jessica Ridgeway, this week. She would have graduated with them on Thursday.
In 2012, Ridgeway, 10, was kidnapped on her way to school and brutally murdered by a Colorado teenager.
Standley Lake High School postponed graduation due to COVID-19, but it didn’t stop students from celebrating graduation and showing their support for the Ridgeway family.
Students and families lined up their cars and drove to Jessica Ridgeway Memorial Park.
Jessica’s family waited anxiously as cars drove by honking and students dropped off flowers.
“That means so much, I can’t even put into words how amazing it feels,” Rebecca Ridgeway, Jessica’s aunt, said.
Karsen Schmidt was in 5th grade with Jessica. She remembers Jessica loved butterflies.
“I really wish she was here with us today, but I know that she is graduating with us in spirit,” Schmidt said.
Many described Jessica as a bubbly classmate with a contagious smile and a kind heart.
“I miss her so incredibly much,” Rebecca Ridgeway said. “I never stop thinking about Jessica.”
She says her family was robbed of many milestones. Ridgeway put up a poster of her niece reading, “Proud of our Senior Jessica Ridgeway Class of 2020.”
Ridgeway called it a bittersweet moment she wished she could share with her niece.
“I would just wrap my arms around her and say congratulations,” Ridgeway said. “You’ve made it.”