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Pastors, community leaders help students at West Side school deal with the loss of one of their own

Kierra Moore, who dreamed of playing in the WNBA, was fatally shot Oct. 14.

Community activists huddle and pray with a student Monday morning at Michele Clark Academic Prep High School on the West Side.
Community activists huddle and pray with a student Monday morning at Michele Clark Academic Prep High School on the West Side.
Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Tristan Smith hopes to some day play in the NBA, and he understands it will take a tremendous effort to make it.

What makes no sense to the 10th grader is how someone with a similar dream, who was putting in the work, could be gunned down — hers now only a what-might-have-been story.

“That’s crazy because you can put so much work in and put so much effort to reach your dream and get it cut short off of something like that,” Smith said.

Smith was among the dozens of students who streamed into Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School on the West Side Monday. About two dozen community activists, including pastor Ira Acree, greeted them, hoping to ease the pain of losing their classmate, Kierra Moore, who, family said, was destined to play in the WNBA.

The 16-year-old was shot and killed Oct. 14 while standing with a group of people in Lawndale, according to police, who said the gunfire came from gunmen in a black car around 11:30 p.m. in the 3100 block of West Polk Street.

Moore was hit several times and died at Mount Sinai Hospital. Family insisted that Moore was not with a group of people when she was killed. Moore was with her twin sister in a rideshare car that was blocked by another vehicle, her family have said.

Some students huddled with Acree and his group in prayer Monday. Others walked into school, appearing dazed — perhaps from the unwelcome spotlight or from trying to process the tragedy.

“I know these kids are traumatized, I know they are just in another place, having to deal with such an awful, unnecessary death of someone who was a leader, who had a pathway out of poverty,” Acree said. “So we’re here to support them, if it’s just nothing but standing with them with a smile and letting them know it’s going to be alright.”

Counselors have been on hand to help students struggling with their emotions, school administrators said. And then to remind them that there is hope in education.

“We know that if we can get them off to college, then they can see a different tomorrow,” said Donovan Robinson, the school’s director of students.