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Valley graduates mourn while sharing memories of Analise Nielson

Tragedy struck home in the hearts of the Valley High School community as one of our own, Analise Nielsen, careened tumbling to her destination exactly one week to the day following her academic graduation with multiple honors. On Sunday, June 4, in the 9 p.m. dusk, their tight-knit community gathered along the outfield first-base line of the Buffalos’ baseball diamond for a candlelight vigil under the showering silver silence of the full moon and the early- on seemingly watchful red and-green flashing of a drone.

From left to right:

  • Analise Nielson, photos courtesy of Harmony Cox

  • Memorial to Analise

  • Ike Staples, Valley 2023 graduate classmate of Analise Nielsen, looking soulfully into an enlarged Black & White portrait, while comforting Lily Barrick, who was lovingly taught by Ann when she labored as a Teacher’s Aide at Valley Elementary School. Photos by Jerry Melrose.

  • Kimber Reeve (left), Athalie Nielsen embracing Jaylee Hoyt and D’Aundra House minister reassuringly to young girls under the golden canopy covering the gallery of Analise’s memorabilia, as volleyball and basketball coach Harmony Cox records it with her cell phone.

  • Gathering in the evening dusk of the Candlelight Vigil celebrating the life of Analise Nielsen, in the front row are members of the Young family: Julie, Tice, Micah, Lexie and Mya, who alongside Bret and Cole Heaton are at trio of 2023 Valley graduated classmates of Ann.

  • Athalie Nielsen shares an upliftingly touching memory with the assembly of friends and well-wishers gathered for the Candlelight Vigil honoring the life and spirit of her sister Analise surrounded by smiling friends Kimber Reeve (left) and D’Aundra House.

A mostly standing solemn-souled assembly of a few-hundred folks of all ages were focused meditatively agaze in front of a golden canopied display of prominently enlarged photographs, both black-and-white and color, as well as family memorabilia, including a plaque enumerating Ann’s scholarly achievements. At length, the first to speak was Home Economics teacher Amber Hooper adorned in her black Hope Squad T-shirt to graciously welcome everyone, then introduce teary-eyed friends, Kimber Reeve and D’Aundra House, alongside younger sister Athalie Neilsen, Class of ‘25.

Each related the depths of their heart-felt recalling of experiences with admirational elegance. Especially Athalie, with her determination to see her way through this life altering tragedy now unexpectedly transpiring in her youth. Following the skyward release of the many yellow balloons shared among the group announced by Amber, the convocation climaxed with an open-ended time of personal reflection and communal socializing. Some elementary-school children, for whom Ann was a teacher’s aid, wept uncontrollably at times. Analise’s senior classmates in-attendance were arranged for a photo by Emily Lacey, set in the midst of those souvenirs, where they afterwards remained lingering, reminiscing, occasionally with moments of light-hearted laughter about some remembered incident characteristic of their friend. Slowly, all were dispersing homeward by around 10:30.

Community fundraisers organized to help the family of Analise Nielson

By Harmony Cox

Analise will forever be remembered as a friend to all. To know her was to love her. Her favorite flowers were yellow sunflowers. And what a ray of sun she was. She often worked jobs, like clerk at the local grocery store, that put her in a position to interact with a lot of different people. We all are realizing now how big an impact she made on so many of us as we went about our normal lives.

Making a typical grocery run, or quick stop at the Rock Shop and there was Ann, always smiling with a kind word for each of us. Analise will be extra missed by her Mom, Brit, sister’s, Athalie, Audrey and Makenzie, her best friend D’Aundra House, who she’d planned to attend and room with at college, and her nextdoor neighbor Kimber Reeve.

Ann’s graduating class just finished painting their number on the Orderville hill above the high school. They hiked the hill again to paint Ann’s name by their number.

Surely as Ann is engraved upon the palms of the Savior’s hands, she is engraved on our hearts and minds. God be with us all until we meet Ann again.

Ways to donate to the family include:

  • There is an account set up at SBSU for the family.

  • The Rock Shop in Orderville is selling raffle tickets – 100 percent going to Ann’s family. Raffle items include a beautiful handmade quilt, jewelry and gift certificates to local businesses.

  • Venmo the Valley booster club - please note on the payment that it’s for Ann’s family. @valleyhsboosters




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