Community mourns student death

A DeKalb County School District (DCSD) student died June 10 after collapsing on a school track during dance team training.

The funeral of Elyse Purefoy, 17, was held June 17 at Saint Philip AME Church in Decatur. Family, friends, dancers, students and members of Arabia Mountain High School band and drumline gathered to share memories and words of comfort
“She was soft-spoken but very strong at the same time,” a friend of Purefoy said. “I would not be the same young lady today without [her] love.”

Another friend of Purefoy’s said she would “scream” Purefoy’s name during their graduation in May when school officials call graduates to walk across the stage.

Purefoy─affectionately known as “Weezie”─recently made Arabia Mountain High School’s dance team. As she participated in a summer workout with the team, she collapsed on the school’s track. She was rushed to the hospital where she later died. Purefoy was a rising senior and would have begun her senior year at the school in the fall.

According to Purefoy’s family and friends, she enjoyed singing and working hard. She began cheering and dancing in the third grade.

“I don’t know how [she] did it all,” Henry Purefoy, Elyse Purefoy’s father said. “[She] trained for dance, worked [at Zaxby’s], went to school full time, including college classes, and still had a 3.9 GPA. [She] was truly gifted.”

The Purefoy family held a vigil for Elyse June 15 that was attended by family, friends and classmates.

The family created an “In Memory of Elyse Purefoy” GoFundMe page to help with burial expenses June 10. As of June 18, the page had raised $13,577 from 423 people in seven days. The page had a goal of $5,000.

“Elyse, you are a beautiful spirit,” the Purefoy family said on the GoFundMe page. “And we will miss you so much.”
No other details have been released, including cause of death.

“The entire DeKalb County School District community, and especially the Arabia Mountain High School family, mourns the passing of a member of the school’s dance team,” DCSD officials said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.”

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