Mendota high school remembers NIU shooting victim

February 15, 2008 3:12:05 PM PST
Julianna Gehant, affectionately known as Julie, grew up in the Mendota area and continued to live there while she commuted to NIU. Because the shooting victim's town was so small town, many people knew her and her family.Flags were lowered at half staff Friday at Mendota High School. Julie Gehant graduated from the school in 1994. She was a student that teach Kathy Conner, will never forget.

"Julie had a great personality. She had a lot of talent. She was going to use that talent for things to help people. It's too bad that she can't do it anymore," Conner said.

Gehant's passions were art and theater. Retired drama teacher Dave Schroeder, said Julie always kept in touch. He showed ABC7 Chicago a Christmas card he received just a few weeks ago from Julie, in which she specifically mentioned her studies at NIU and her desire to become a second grade teacher.

"She was just an amazing individual. And I'll tell you this five or 10 times, I'll miss her. She was fantastic," Schroeder said.

Julie had four semesters left at NIU before she was expected to graduate. She became a student at the university after serving an as engineer in the Army.

"Julie always had a goal. She knew she wanted to help people somewhere along the line, and she needed to further her education. And she saw the service as a road to do it. Things were working pretty well until yesterday," Conner told ABC7 Chicago.

Students at Mendota High School have signed a banner in Julie Gehant's memory. They're going to give it to students at NIU.

The high school students also are taking up a donation to give to some of the victims at NIU.

There will be a moment of silence held for Julie and the other victims Friday night at a high school basketball game.

The shooting victim's family spoke with ABC7 Chicago Friday, but was too distraught and too exhausted to speak on camera.