Katavia Hankerson walked the halls of McClintock Middle School on Friday showing the design she’d drawn on her left shoulder.
“Sunset,” it said. “5-28-14.”
That was the morning her eighth-grade language arts teacher and cheerleader coach, Sharon Anderson, died of breast cancer.
“I wrote ‘Sunset’ because I believe she was an angel,” said Katavia, 14.
She added musical notes to the design because Anderson loved to dance, she said. She drew a crown above the “S” in “Sunset” “because she would always say, ‘I’m the queen,’ ” Katavia said with a smile.
Katavia wore pink slippers and a pink top to school in remembrance of Anderson, while classmate Trey Hodge, 13, wore pink socks like he and many other students did every Friday this year.
“I will miss her love and her respect for me,” Katavia said.
“I will miss her sense of humor,” said Trey, “and how she made everybody smile even though she wasn’t feeling well.”
Friend and colleague Mario Black said Anderson, 44, “was a woman of courage. You would never have known what she was going through. She was a beautiful person.”
Anderson was a native of Columbia. She met her husband, Brian, at Hampton University in Virginia, and they settled in his native New York after graduation. They moved to North Carolina in 2003, two years after she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.
“She loved teaching, and she loved the students, there and wherever she’d taught,” Brian Anderson said Friday, recalling how his wife was the last person to leave the school each day.
Although the couple couldn’t have children because of her condition, “she was a mother to thousands” through her teaching, Brian Anderson said.
Even former students who are now grownups with children continued to call her, Brian Anderson said. “They’d say, ‘Hey, Mom,’ ” he said.
Recounting how Sharon Anderson declined a medical leave to remain in the classroom, Principal Paul Williams said she was “a fighter to the end.”
On Wednesday, Brian Anderson delivered a note from his wife to Williams.
She wanted everyone to know that she died peacefully surrounded by her loving family, Williams said.
She wanted her students to “give their best” on end-of-grade testing, and she said she wished she could be there with them.
At 7 p.m. Monday, students, parents, teachers and staff will dress in all pink for a ceremony in the school’s bus lot, where they will release pink balloons to celebrate Sharon Anderson’s life.