Central Unified honors memory of murdered student with scholarship in her name

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Central Unified School District honored the memory of Janessa Ramirez. An elementary school student who was killed last year by a stray bullet during a gang fight.

Her mother was present Monday night to award a scholarship in her daughter's name. Like dozens of other parents gathered in the high school auditorium Stacey Gonzales Ramirez also waited for her daughter's name to be called.

But instead of Janessa, Stacey found herself standing on stage.

"She's not here, and I miss her so much," Stacey said, "It's like a nightmare. I tell people I feel like I'm still in this fog and she's just asleep somewhere, or she's just out visiting. It really hasn't set in until I'm alone."

Janessa was in fourth grade last year when she was killed in the cross fire of a gang dispute. A stray round fired from several hundred yards away struck her while she was standing in front of a laundromat.

A year later Central Unified is trying to recover from the tragedy by celebrating Janessa's life through a scholarship award given to six students.

"I pray they do further their education and really go for their goals, and just remember there was this little girl in this school district that was there for them," said Stacey.

Among the recipients was Michael Schiefer, the senior said among all the awards he took home Monday night this one will always stand out.

"I felt really honored, because this has made a really big impact on the district, and I'm extremely proud."

For Stacey, who will never see her daughter graduate, seeing others who share Janessa's love for learning is some consolation.

"She was really a smart student and into school, so I feel like it's a good thing then. Someone is getting her brains," said Stacey.

The Foundation for Central Schools funded the scholarships this year. They said they hope to make this an annual award and are looking for other sponsors.
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