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Third-grader with a ‘smile that went on for miles’ will be dearly missed
May 16, 2011
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Classmates spend week making memorials and remembering their friend, Mileka Hall

By Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

DASSEL, MN – Mileka Hall, a third-grader at Dassel Elementary School, was a good friend to all who knew her, always saying, “Yes,” to anyone wanting to play with her.

Mileka, who is the daughter of Dassel Elementary first grade teacher, JoAnna Hall and Kyle Wawrzyniak, died the night of May 7, following an all terrain vehicle (ATV) accident at a relative’s property northwest of Silver Lake on 200th Street.

She had been driving the ATV shortly before 9 p.m. when it crashed. She was not wearing a helmet.

The McLeod County Sheriff’s Office reported that Hall was in critical condition when she was transported via LifeLink helicopter to Hennepin County Medical Center where she later passed away from related injuries.

Students and faculty at Dassel Elementary paid tribute and celebrated Mileka’s life last week by wearing bright pink ribbons.

“She was always about bright colors and showing her creativity,” said Mileka’s classmate Jenna House.

Counselors and pastors were also available at the school for students and faculty to speak to if they wanted.

“Mileka was a special gift to us, and we are sorely missing her today,” said Mileka’s teacher, Heidi Little. “She was a dear, sweet, little girl.”

Mileka was a child who influenced all the people in her care groups at Dassel Elementary, which are made up of students from different grades.

Students in her care groups who were younger than Mileka looked up to her, and she earned the fourth graders’ respect, said Dassel Elementary Principal Debbie Morris.

“She literally be-bopped down the halls at school,” Morris said. “You could see the exuberance she had for life by the way she walked.”

When walking through the hallways, or reading some of the cards students and faculty wrote about Mileka, the common theme was how loving and happy she was, Morris said.

Some of the things people were saying and writing include: “Mileka’s smile went on for miles,” “She loved everybody and everything,” and, “She was always nice and kind.”

“She was as bright as an orange,” was one comment Morris said really captured Mileka’s personality.

Her friends remember playing with Mileka on the playground and at birthday parties.

“We liked to go in the tornado and spin around really fast, giving rides to each other,” Sydney Isaacson said.

“Mileka, Kylie, and I would twist on the swings, and she kept laughing a lot. She always laughed a lot,” remembered Carly Ewald.

Her friends also remembered how, on St. Patrick’s Day, Mileka came to school all decked out in green. She had green ribbons in her hair, everything she wore that day was green. She even had green water, according to friend Jenna House.

“Some of us had forgotten to wear green that day, so we copied Mileka and dyed our water green, too,” House said.

At Annie Seaberg’s birthday party, Mileka and the rest of the children played a game using buttons, which they tried to toss into a bucket.

Those same buttons were being used by Mileka’s classmates to make flowers to give to Mileka’s family members, Kylie Johnson said.

Students were using colorful magazine strips for the petals of the flowers, and the buttons were the center of the flower.

Another memorial students made for the family was a mosaic, using colorful, broken tiles glued to a wooden cross. Little and her husband wrote a poem for Mileka to go with the cross.

The students in Mileka’s class are working to paint a wooden chair in Mileka’s favorite pattern, bright pink zebra-stripe, which will remain in the classroom as a memorial to Mileka.

Mileka was not shy about showing others how she felt or trying to cheer them up.

“She was so loving, and she showed it in so many ways, like putting little notes and letters in peoples desks,” Little said.

Mileka often wrote, “Hello,” on a piece of paper and would tape it to friends’ backs, said her friend Belle Swendra.

“It was so cool to know her, such a happy, happy spirit,” Morris said. “She was always kind to everyone.”

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