WASHINGTON - On her graduation day, Magruder High School senior Christela Romero is missing one of the most important people in her life - her school counselor Denise Schaefer.
"I met her in a kind of a strange way cause I was dealing with some problems. And she really helped me out a lot. I could go to her whenever I wanted to," Romero says.
Amid the white caps and smiling families, Schaefer, 38, was noticeably absent.
Earlier this month, the beloved counselor died suddenly after she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder.
"I was actually going to see if I could pass by her grave right now. So I can, you know, tell her that I made it, and, you know, I kept going forward. And I'd know that's what she would want," Romero says, with her family gathered around her.
The Rockville school celebrated its graduation ceremony at DAR Constitution Hall Friday morning in D.C. And students took the time to remember Schaefer's life and her contributions to their own.
Schaefer was a longtime teacher, coach and counselor in the Montgomery County school system. She worked with senior Paola Peretto as well.
"She would have loved to be here. It would have just been great to have her here," Peretto says.
A scholarship is being set up at Magruder High School in Schaefer's name.
Schaefer leaves behind a husband and two young daughters.
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