Vigil held to remember Evelyn Dieckhaus

“She was that bright light. She was a nurturing child with other children.”
A vigil was held for 9-year-old Evelyn Dieckhouse on Thursday night before her Celebration of Life service on Friday.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 11:02 PM CDT
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FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WSMV) - The High Hopes Development Center held a vigil in honor of one of its former students.

Evelyn Dieckhaus, age 9, was one of the victims in the deadly shooting on Monday at The Covenant School.

More than 100 people gathered in the parking lot of High Hopes Development Center holding candles and supporting one another during such a difficult time. School officials said Dieckhaus attended the center from the time she was an infant until kindergarten.

“She was that bright light,” Gail Powell, the center’s former executive director for 15 years, said.

Powell said she had to attend this vigil, for many a part of the High Hopes family.

“She was a nurturing child with other children, and I don’t think there was any child that didn’t love her, or any adult that didn’t love her,” Powell said.

Allen Long, the center’s current executive director, recalls what those gut-wrenching moments were like for the High Hope community.

“As the news started to unfold and we finally got the news by early afternoon that it was a child of one of our own, it changed everything,” Long said.

She’s described as a caring and smart 9-year-old loved by so many, who had dreams of one day becoming an occupational therapist, just like her mother Katy, who works at High Hopes.

“She was a peer and a role model no matter what their disability was. She modeled excellence and love to those other children,” Long said.

Several people in the crowd wore pink, one of Evelyn’s favorite colors. They prayed, some shedding tears, and sang “Jesus Loves You.”

Long said losing a bright light in such a horrible way is certainly a tragedy. However, they’re leaning on their faith and high hopes in humanity.

“I don’t even know if it’s fair at this moment but there is good in this world, there is good in people and even in such horrific times like this, we have seen the best in humanity,” Long said.

Dieckhaus’ funeral will be held on Friday in Nashville.