SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — There are constant reminders of Brexialee Torres-Ortiz inside the halls of STEM at Blodgett Elementary School.
“We remember everyday, but how we honor Brexi doing what she used to do, right,” said Principal Harry Valentin, “Being happy, being joyful, being friends with the students.”
The eleven year old was president of her sixth grade class. She enjoyed many things including tennis, volleyball and basketball. Her classmates, teachers and Syracuse Police did all of that on what was known as, Brexi Day.
“I didn’t get a chance to meet Brexi,” said Syracuse Police Sergeant JM Giarrusso. “I didn’t get to go to the school and meet her and sit down and have that conversation. So I’m taking advantage of that now. Having the kids eat pizza with me, sitting down talking, getting to know them is really special.”
About 45 officers were there to make that connection. Principal Valentin said this break is exactly what they needed.
“We see students struggling, we see students in trauma,” Valentin said. “Some of the students do not know to cope, their feelings. Now we’re seeing that for one instance they forgot, they forgot what they feel because they’re having joy.”
Brexi’s family joined the school for this special day and helped serve pizza for lunch.
“Even though she’s not here in person, she’s still here. Seeing their smiles, seeing they’re happy. It means a lot to us. It represents a lot to us. It means that Brexi’s still here and people haven’t forgotten her.”Brenlee Ortiz, Brexialee’s mother
Valentin said this is just the beginning. They plan to host a Brexi Day at least once a month at the school.