TULSA - Students and faculty at Memorial High School are honoring the life of a former student who was shot and killed last year in a case of mistaken identity.
Kayla Ferrante would've turned 18 years old Friday, but she was killed in May 2012 shortly after graduating. She was shot while riding in a car just a few blocks from her house.
Months later, police arrested Edwin Daniels for her murder.
Ferrante's teachers and friends at Memorial are celebrating Ferrante's life by unveiling a special tribute. They say Ferrante touched many lives during her 17 years. She helped tutor special needs children, motivating them to overcome their fears.
Ferrante's parents donated money to the high school, which paid for a special display case featuring special needs tutors at the school. The crime commission also donated $10,000 to the school.
Ferrante's mother, Roxanne Thornton, said the the showcase will serve to inspire future Memorial High School students.
"To continue to promote her passion of working with special needs and helping others to become advocates for special needs children," she said. "My hope is that, as time goes forward, that another student will find the same passion that Kayla had for these children and point their life in that same direction."
A plaque will also honor Ferrante, "so that everyone will know the story of Kayla and the difference she made in the lives of these kids," said Janet Parker, special education teacher. "Because we want her to be remembered forever."
The plaque, which honors the peer tutor of the month, was first awarded to Emily Edwards, who introduced Kayla to the special needs classroom. She was honored to be the first recipient and called Kayla blessed.
"She's a wonderful person. She loved these kids. She would be honored to be here right now. I can already tell you she's blessed to have everyone be here. She was just a very inspirational person," Edwards said.
The donation from Ferrante's parents will also help pay for new uniforms for Special Olympics athletes. Those uniforms will have a logo that reads "Kayla's Kids."
And finally, Ferrante's friends are dying their hair blue, just as she did for graduation the week before her death.
A ceremony unveiling the plaque and display took place at 10 a.m. Students and faculty gathered to sing happy birthday to the fallen teen.
Daniels will stand trial for Kayla's murder April 8.
2NEWS Reporter Max Resnik will have this story at 5 and 6 p.m.
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