In memory of Leticia: School pays tribute to Federal Way teen's life
By KYRA LOW
Federal Way Mirror Reporter
January 15, 2010 · 10:58 AM
Leticia Granados — "Lety" as her friends and family called her — passed away on Wednesday night, Jan. 13, after a long battle with cancer.
But, despite being age 16, Leticia was no child. She had grown up too quickly. Her last wish was a mature one. She wanted to graduate high school.
And so her classmates and teachers gave her that. The last day of school before winter break was Leticia's graduation ceremony. Escorted by her AVID classmates, in front of her family members from Mexico, Columbia and California, to the cheers of hundreds of students, Leticia marched to "Pomp and Circumstance." She was given her dream, a diploma, by principal Lisa Griebel, Superintendent Tom Murphy and school board president Tony Moore.
It was a day of celebration for her family, but also one of tears.
"It feels good to know my daughter is happy," Carmen Granados said that day. "But I am saddened because I know her time is getting close. But I am seeing it in a new light. My daughter is an example to all other youth to fight to get a good education."
All of her extended family was able to spend one last Christmas with her. Carmen Granados wasn't even sure her daughter would make it to Christmas — but she did. Leticia had said being with her family was what she was most looking forward to over the holidays.
Leticia told her teachers that she wasn't worried. She told them to stop crying and to smile. She knows her Federal Way family will watch out for her brother David.
Memorial at school
Now, the Federal Way High School family who supported her throughout a battle with cancer honored her life once more.
The Martin Luther King Jr. assembly on Friday, Jan. 15, was quickly changed to add a memorial for Leticia.
Like Leticia, these students had to become adults very quickly, saying goodbye to one of their own.
Once again, like they did at Leticia's high school graduation ceremony less than a month ago, students filed into the gymnasium, most wearing pink to honor Leticia's battle with leukemia. Pink shirts, pants, scarves and bandanas were all proudly worn.
For months these students have rallied behind Leticia. Her godmother, Leticia Riojas, said their support had meant so much.
She had gone from an unknown freshman to someone students sought out in the halls to say hi.
Students brought food, Christmas presents and companionship to Leticia at her home — when she was too sick to go to school.
The Jazz Choir sang to her and hundreds brought cards.
Now these same students came say goodbye.
The message of the day: Leticia and Martin Luther King shared quite a few similarities. Both were good people who believed in love and lived their lives in that vein.
"The quality, not the longevity of one's life is what's important," a student quoted King.
"We can see now the echoes of that in this room."
Her friends say she lived a full life and that she never pitied herself or her situation. She was a girl who loved Chinese food, especially Panda Express. She loved to write, dreamed of her high school graduation and loved the song "Empire State of Mind" by Alicia Keys and Jay-Z.
She knew, her friend said, that "Life is only as good as we are to other people."
Then the Jazz Choir sang for Leticia, one more time, singing "What a Wonderful World."Contact Federal Way Mirror Reporter Kyra Low at firstname.lastname@example.org or (253) 925-5565.