Prom is the social event of a young person's life, a time for lasting memories to form.
For students at Aurelia High School, this will be a prom they will never forget - but those memories are now drenched in tears.
Junior Kay Ann Kruckenberg, Aurelia, daughter of Henry Kruckenberg, was radiant in a lime green gown Saturday and posed with her friends, wearing her signature broad smile, as prom got underway.
Afterward, she and her fellow students attended the after-prom activities being held in the school gym. Kay Ann, like many others, took part in what all expected to be a harmless "sumo wrestling" event which allowed the students to dress in the provided air-padded suits to bump one another around.
Amid the laughter, Kay Ann was pushed, in fun, and fell, hitting her head on the gym floor.
Several adults in attendance saw her down and immediately went to assist. The Aurelia Rescue Squad was called and she was then transported by ambulance to the Sioux Valley Hospital in Cherokee. She was later life-flighted to Mercy Medical Center where she was in a coma. School officials reported that she had passed away at 3 a.m. Wednesday. However, a hospital spokesperson said that was untrue, and that she was alive and in critical condition as of 11 p.m.
Superintendent of Aurelia Schools Tom Vint said that regular reports were being received from the hospital where Kay Ann was unconscious, and that information was relayed to the students in school. Doctors had thought she was making improvements in her vital signs up until Tuesday morning.
An assembly was held Monday to inform middle school and high school students.
Wednesday morning, the school's crisis team, consisting of lay pastor Bruce Rapp, First Congregational Church; Pastor Jack Weida, United Methodist Church; and Pastor Larry Lemke, St. Paul Lutheran Church; Chris Carr, a psychologist from Prairie Mental Health; three AEA 12 counselors, Ann Sandine, high school counselor; administrators and teachers, were available following an assembly for all students, when death was announced.
Kay Ann was an outstanding and involved student. A cheerleader for football and basketball.
A performer in band and jazz band. A member of large group speech. She was in the cast for the fall school play, and ran cross-country. She sang in choir, swing choir and jazz choir. She belonged to the Academic Club, an honor for those showing excellence in the classroom.
High school principal Dave Hickman described Kay Ann as, "bubbly, always positive and everyone's friend."
Superintendent Vint added, "It's very unfortunate. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kay Ann's family. It is a sad day for our school and community."
If necessary, her family had planned to donate her organs to others.