Tuscumbia students dedicate tree in honor of former classmate

TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – Three weeks ago, tragedy struck a family and an elementary school in the blink of an eye. An eight-year-old little girl died from injuries sustained in a crash while she was on her way to school in Colbert County. Friday afternoon, her classmates in Tuscumbia honored her memory.

Jaleia Smith

Second graders and their teachers at G.W. Trenholm Primary School gathered on the playground. They wanted to plant a pink dogwood in honor of their fellow classmate, Jaleia Smith.

“Pink was Jaleia’s favorite color. She was all about pink and girly. So, we have been wearing pink since September 27. We’ve had a ribbon on our chests or worn pink in honor of her,” explained Principal Veronica Bayles.

The last three weeks has been tough for everyone who assembled. Smith died after her father's car was struck by a vehicle which crossed the median of U.S. Highway 43 in Littleville. Seeing her friends plant the tree gives her dad, Jeremy, some peace.

“There’s a little bit of her inside of them,” stated Smith.” Just for them to do what they did, I’m happy, especially with this community.”

It’s hard to imagine the sorrow her family and friends have felt since her death. The tree symbolizes many things as it takes root near her favorite spot on the playground. Strength is one of them.

“We hope that all who pass by this tree, or admire its lovely blooms, or take shade under its branches – will reflect on fond memories of the one and only Jaleia Smith,” read school Counselor Faith Carpenter.

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