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Homewood-Flossmoor H.S. senior, former Shepard student, dies

Arielle Terry

Arielle Terry

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Updated: December 29, 2012 6:19AM



On the day she stepped foot in the JROTC program at Shepard High School in Palos Heights, people knew there was something special about Arielle Terry.

“She came in without an ego, very eager to learn,” Chief Master Sgt. Bill Foster said. “She was very confident, very caring. She easily influenced the other cadets.”

This bright, motivated teen who earned the call sign “Hard Core,” and who last spring was named Cadet Core Commander for this school year, will be dearly missed, Foster said.

Arielle, 17, died Monday, after apparently collapsing just days after her 22-year-old brother’s funeral. Her friend Denzel Graham, who went to school with her at Shepard, said Arielle’s other brother told him she died of kidney failure.

“I feel like God sent for her and you can’t stop that,” said Graham, a senior at the school. “God went for her for a reason, and that’s to become an angel.”

Arielle’s brother Keith C. Terry was killed Nov. 16 in a car accident on Interstate 57 just north of Rantoul in Champaign County. According to a story in the Rantoul Press, a car Terry was driving was apparently pushed by a semi into the rear of another semi just before 2:30 p.m. that day.

He was buried Friday at Lincoln Cemetery, 12300 S. Kedzie Ave., Chicago.

Arielle transferred in September to Homewood-Flossmoor High School, where she planned to finish her senior year, but staff and students at Shepard were struggling Tuesday to deal with the news of their former classmate’s death.

“We’ve pretty much suspended our curriculum,” Foster said. “We’re just letting the kids do what they need to do to cope.”

For some that means asking lots of questions. Others have chosen to hit the gym; working out was one of Arielle’s favorite pastimes, Foster said.

Arielle transferred to Shepard at the beginning of her sophomore year. Other students took an immediate liking to her, said Maj. Dan Johnson, of the JROTC program.

When she informed them she was transferring to H-F in September, many of her classmates were very shaken up, Johnson said.

“It was a tearful goodbye,” he said.

Joshua White, who knew Arielle since he was 5, said he was devastated by the news of her death. He said she would be his inspiration when he graduates and goes to college.

“She was smart and intelligent for her age,” White said. “If anything bad happened, she’d look on the positive side of things.”

Johnson and Foster said they were unaware of any health issues Arielle might have had.

“She was cleared to participate in all activities,” Johnson said.

Foster said Arielle talked frequently about pursuing a career with the Air Force in intelligence or linguistics. She met frequently with school counselors to make sure she was on track, he said.

White said Arielle also had a job working at the AMC Theater in Crestwood.

During an honors ceremony at the close of last school year, Arielle received two special awards: the Veterans of Foreign Wars Award for military bearing and conduct, academic excellence and leadership; and the Daughters of the American Revolution Award for dependability and good character, discipline and leadership.

Jodi Bryant, spokeswoman for Homewood-Flossmoor High School, described Arielle as “extremely bright and college-bound.”

“She was well-liked by everyone. She will be missed,” she said.

Contributing: Susan DeMar Lafferty and Casey Toner



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