BRANDON - Brandon High School students gathered around the flag pole well before the first school bell of the day Friday to honor the memory of Heather Hall.
The teacher and cheerleading coach lost her life to cancer at the age of 28 earlier this week.
Students prayed, sang and celebrated Hall's life. She taught Math at Brandon High School for five years. Hall was also named the school's Teacher of the Year in 2011.
"She was a great coach, a great teacher and a great friend," said one of Hall's students, Andrea Rauschert. Another student, Holly Bailey added, "Mrs. Hall was an amazing woman. Even though she was going through so much, she was still able to make us all happy."
Many students said Hall's energy and joyful spirit is what they will remember most. "She walked around this school, and all she had was a smile on her face," Rauschert said.
Assistant Principal Tibor Kovacs described Hall as positive, vibrant and upbeat. "She loved those girls very much. She put a lot of energy and passion into what she was doing. It's what kept her going," he said.
Students wore purple clothing on Friday at the request of Hall's husband, Jarrett, a Hillsborough County deputy. Purple was Hall's favorite color.
Kovacs encouraged students, "...just to remember everything she stood for. She never quit. She kept battling all the way through the end."
Visitation services for Hall will be held at Plant City First Baptist Church, Friday, 6-8pm. Funeral services will be held at the same place Saturday morning. Many Brandon High School students and staff are expected to attend.
There will be a memorial run in Heather Hall's honor December 1. Kovacs said all money raised will go to research efforts and treatments that Hall was involved with. Register for the memorial run or purchase a Heros for Heather t-shirt here: http://www.marketplace.hcsocharities.com/HEROES-FOR-HEATHER-5K-RUN-MEMORIAL-RUN-HFH5K.htm