RYDAL, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A Bartow County elementary school is mourning the loss of a student who lost her battle to cancer.
She showed up on the school roll at Pine Log Elementary School as Elizabeth Kaplan, but to everyone she knew, she was simply “Eli,” a sweet, spunky third-grader with an adventurous spirit. She had to be to have battled cancer twice in her short life.
“She had no fear it seemed,” said school counselor Francie Livingston in a release sent to FOX 5 News. “Eli was willing to try anything academically or socially. She was also the definition of love, as she loved her family and school fiercely, especially Ms. Allison Gilbert.”
“She was a hero to Eli,” added Livingston about Eli’s kindergarten and second-grade teacher. “But little did Eli know, she taught Ms. Gilbert and PLES even more about living life with grace, humility, passion, and fire.”
“Elizabeth was the smallest in the class but she had the biggest heart,” said Gilbert. “Elizabeth loved helping me. She would come in and say, ‘Do you have anything you need me to do for you?’ She was like my own personal paraprofessional. When I would ask the students what they wanted to be when they grew up, Elizabeth would always say, ‘a teacher.’ Although she is no longer with us, we will always cherish the memories we have of her.”
Students found out about Eli’s passing Wednesday and opened the school to parents and guardians seeking solace with their children. The school will have additional counselors at the school again Thursday.
“We want to open it up to the community because Eli and her family were loved by all, not just her school family,” said Livingston.
More than $12,000 were raised in September in the school district for Eli’s family to pay for medical expenses. The school is still taking donations to help.