Nina Poeta was a senior at Seymour High School when she died Saturday from brain cancer, ending a year-long battle that brought community members together in a strong show of support.
"You know, she won," said high school student Morgan Scinto, while visiting a makeshift memorial outside Seymour High after school Monday. "She's in a better place. She won this battle."
Scinto wore a shirt emblazoned with the phrase, "Keep Calm and Nina Strong," the slogan of an effort to raise money and awareness in Poeta's memory.
Pictures plastered over the memorial show 17-year-old Poeta cheerleading on her high school team. Seymour High School was a big part of her life, and Poeta's struggle resonated not just with her own high school but but students in neighboring towns in the Naugatuck Valley.
"I think it's wonderful what they've done," said Maureen Scott, who said she knows Poeta's relatives in Beacon Falls. "All the communities are doing that now for people with problems."
The "Seymour Pink" initiative shows support for women with breast cancer, but pink is now the color for Poeta too.
Wearing a pink jacket, classmate Alex Rimkus said she remembered Poeta when she was very young.
"It's really sad. I'm really sad for her family," she said, "and I hope she'll live on forever in everyone's hearts."
Funeral arrangements have not yet been determined.