"She was a gift," Baker said. "She is a gift."
Baker and Musolino continue to talk about Kara in present tense, which Musolino said is a testament to the way she lived -- always present.
"She's not really gone for us," he said. "I don't think she ever will be, spiritually."
"I'm better for knowing her," Baker said.
"In every way," Musolino added.
Support to the end
Classmates in all grades bought T-shirts that Kara helped design. On the shirt was a quote that Kara had chosen: "Love the life you live. Live the life you love." The school sold out all 1,400 and a class photo was taken, with Kara in it, that hangs in the high school's main office.
Kara, even when she had to start using a wheelchair, continued to attend basketball games and was planning to go on a field trip this spring, Musolino said. She went to Cotillion, played Bingo and celebrated the New Year with her best friends.
"I think that's courage," Musolino said. "When you look at that, and maybe sometimes we get petty about the small things in life, but she made you strong. I'm gonna take that away from this - how courageous she and her parents and these girls were in the face of all this."
The impact of Kara's life extended beyond our borders. Her Australian host family came to East Syracuse to see Kara, staying two weeks to spend time with her and her family. The school that which she attended held a memorial and planted a tree in her memory.
"Time is too precious to be anything but happy," Lauren said. "It's what I've learned from her."
Superintendent Donna DeSiato said she couldn't help but notice how the sun shone so brightly on the weekend of her services.
"Her bright light was clearly shining," she said. "And it will continue to shine through the people she knew and loved."