An eighth grade Highlands Middle School cheerleader died suddenly over the weekend, according to school officials.
Lilliana Schalck, 13, became ill at a cheerleading competition in Columbus Saturday, according to Athletic Director Kevin Nieporte.
Nieporte said she was preparing to compete with her squad when she said she didn’t feel well. He said her father took her to the hospital where her health quickly deteriorated.
Lilliana was “one of our most talented cheerleaders,” Nieporte said. She competed on the high school’s varsity co-ed squad but was still a middle-schooler.
Nieporte said her talent, attitude and likability made it an easy decision for the cheerleading coaches.
“She was the nicest,” Nieporte said.
On Saturday, she was with her other teammates at Premier Athletics of Northern Kentucky, a Park Hills-based cheerleading, dance and gymnastics facility.
“She is beloved by so many and we know our students will need help through the grieving process,” Fort Thomas Independent Schools Superintendent Karen Cheser said in a letter to parents.
Both the school system and Premier Athletics will be holding vigils for Lilliana Sunday.
A vigil will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Highlands Middle School gym.
Cheser said counselors will be available at the vigil as well as throughout the week at school for students who need support.
On its Facebook page, Premier Athletics said it would hold a private prayer meeting Sunday for those who knew her.
“Our hearts are completely broken for the Schalck family,” the Facebook post said.
It is unclear what caused Lilliana’s death.
Lilliana is the second Highlands student to die suddenly in recent years. In August 2017, 15-year-old Michelle Chalk was killed in a hammock when one the trees supporting it collapsed and fell on her.