Students pay tribute to classmates killed in house fire - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Students pay tribute to classmates killed in house fire

By Curtis McCloud -   bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - They may be small kids but they have big hearts filled with love for their fellow classmates Mackayla and Zakoya. More than twenty students gathered in Brewer Elementary gym Tuesday to say goodbye.

"It was a good opportunity for our children to see how you deal with tragedy and lost but yet you are able to go on and continue on and press on," said Sheila Rodgers, Zokoya Bankston's 5th grade teacher.

Rodgers says it is a difficult for the children and staff but they are all leaning on each other for support.  Rodgers says she will never forget 10-year-old Zokoya and her passion for learning.

"She appeared very eager to learn, whenever I would talk or have whole group instructions she tended to lean forward as she wanted to catch everything that was being said or everything that was being done," Rodgers said.

Zokoya's grandmother, Patricia Mays attended today's ceremony.  She laid her granddaughter to rest yesterday in Blakely, Georgia she says the family is still having a hard time coping with the loss.

"She will always be in our hearts, we will never forget her, the little things she would run around the house and do, she loved to dance, play ball," Mays said.

Karen Grohman, Mackayla's first grade teacher says her students are finding ways to deal with losing Mackayla.

"We talk about it a lot in my classroom they wrote her cards and letters which helped to get some of of that feeling of sadness out of them."

Students and teachers were given a chance to pay special tribute to both girls. After the ceremony more than 20 white balloons with messages attached to them were released into the air by students.

Two pink balloons represented Mackayla and Zakoya, they were let go by family members.

The Columbus Fire Department is still waiting on lab test before they can determine what exactly caused the house fire.

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