Friday, November 05, 1999

Cheerleader's visitation at school

Enquirer Contributor

        MONROE — Nikki Muncy's fellow cheerleaders will lead a procession of mourners tonight at Lemon-Monroe High School.

        From 6-8 p.m., students, parents and other members of this tight-knit community will come to say goodbye.

        The 17-year-old junior and member of the squad died Tuesday after her car skidded into the path of a semi tractor-trailer on Augspurger Road.

        Nikki, along with John P. Smith, a classmate at the D. Russel Lee Career Center, were taken by helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. John, a senior, remains there in critical condition. Two other passengers and fellow students, Gregory Elam and Terry Combs, were treated and released from Fort Hamilton Hospital in Hamilton.

        “It's unbelievable when you see them as little ones and you watch them grow up,” said Carol Brotherton, who coached a softball team Nikki played on when she was younger. “These are the types of situations when our faith carries us all.”

        Fellow cheerleader Tiffany Rouster said she remembers meeting Nikki when both were selected for the squad at Verity Middle School. The two didn't get along — until Principal Larry Knapp intervened.

        “He made us skip down the hall holding hands,” Tiffany said. “From then on, we were good friends. I'm going to miss her. Everybody knew her. She was happy, cheerful. If you were mad about something she made you laugh. Cheering was her main thing, but she was good at softball, too.”

        Many students Thursday were channeling their grief into poems or other expressions of sorrow. Few students opted to leave school to grieve. A group of cheerleaders felt better after bringing food to Nikki's family.

        Tonight, Tiffany said, will be tough. “Her casket is going to be at school. It's going to be hard to look at it. At first we didn't believe that it happened.”

        Equally hard, she said, will be the first football game next fall, without Nikki.

        “Before every game, our coach always tells us cheerleaders wear halos. So now we know Nikki has our halo. She'll be there right beside us, watching us, cheering us on,” she said.

        The school's crisis team, along with ministers and others, will be at school this evening during the visitation, said Karen Jackson, school and community relations specialist with Middletown/Monroe schools.

        Nikki's funeral will be 1 p.m. Saturday at World Harvest Church of God, 602 E. State St. in Trenton. Burial follows at Springhill Cemetery in Liberty Township.


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