Grayslake North mourns loss of freshman cheerleader
Students and staff members at Grayslake North High School are mourning the loss of freshman cheerleader Alyssa Wood, who was known for a never-quit attitude.
A moment of silence for the 14-year-old, who died of cancer Dec. 26, was observed Thursday night before the tipoff of the varsity boys basketball game against Grayslake Central. Visitation and a memorial service also were held Thursday at Ringa Funeral Home in Lake Villa.
Grayslake High School District 127 is pulling together to support family and community members in dealing with the tragic news, said Renee Zoladz, the district's associate superintendent of instructional and personnel services.
The Grayslake North High School Crisis Team met last week, and members of the counseling department and teachers and administrators are available to support students in coming weeks, she said. A list of available support services is on the school website, www.d127.org/north/.
Alyssa was diagnosed in late November with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She lived in Lake Villa and was formerly of Lindenhurst, where she played soccer in the park district program for many years. She joined the Pink Panther Soccer Club last summer after showing "unwavering determination and a 'never quit' attitude in support of her soccer teams," according to her obituary.
Alyssa was an active member of the Grayslake North freshman cheer team and planned to join the spring GNHS soccer team. Cheer Coach Stephanie Kapchinski described her as "a team player that came to practice excited to work and improve her skills as a cheerleader."
She also was well-known as a soccer player at Palombi Middle School. Candles were lighted in her memory and other tributes given for her on the funeral home website.
Writers noted her beautiful smile, saying it was etched in many hearts and wouldn't be forgotten by anyone lucky enough to have seen it.
The native of Providence, Rhode Island, is survived by her parents, five siblings, three nieces and nephews and many aunts, uncles and cousins. Instead of flowers, the family asked donations be made to a GoFundMe page opened on their behalf that has become a memorial fund.