It will be Raven Day again on Friday at Southwest Middle School.
“It’s a very, very sad day,” Southwest principal Jackie Talley said Tuesday morning. “But we want to rejoice in her memory, too, because of the way she touched everyone.”
Raven Rud, who was 14, died Monday at her home after a two-year battle with brain cancer. The Southwest Middle School graduate affected many people in her short life, especially the staff and students at Southwest, Talley said. Last year, during Raven’s eighth-grade year, staff at Southwest created Team Raven shirts, part of a fund-raising campaign to help the family and show support.
Students and staff will be asked to wear those shirts Friday in Raven’s honor, Talley said.
“This little lady inspired so many people across the city,” she said. “It’s a really sad day for us at Southwest.”
Raven was a seventh-grader at Southwest in late 2010 when she suffered a seizure during a basketball game. Screening showed a large mass in Raven’s brain, which doctors eventually diagnosed as a brain cancer called glioblastoma.
In the past two years, Raven underwent two brain surgeries, multiple rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, all with a smile on her face and a positive attitude, Talley said.
“She was always more worried about someone else,” Talley said. “If you asked her on any given day ‘How are you doing today Raven?’ She would say, ‘I’m fine. How are you?’”
Talley said that because Raven missed so much school while receiving treatment, the staff made every effort to include her in as many things as possible. The school held multiple fundraisers, including a root beer float event with the entire Rush hockey team and a blood drive.
In February, Raven was honored during the Rapid City Stevens/Rapid City Central girls high school basketball game at Central. The crowd wore Team Raven T-shirts and Central police liaison officer Tim Doyle — formerly a liaison officer at Southwest — presented her with a basketball signed by both teams.
On Tuesday night, the Stevens/Central volleyball game was dedicated to Raven.
Earlier Tuesday, Talley remembered Raven as such “a sweet girl” who despite her own struggles taught everyone around her important lessons about life.
“If kids learn something from this, I hope they take away how she lived her life … with that big smile and that big heart,” Talley said. “She’s changed my life.”
She changed the lives of her former classmates as well, who remembered her Tuesday at Stevens High School.
Superintendent John Julius said many freshman, former classmates of Raven’s, wore their Raven jerseys to class. Counselors were on hand throughout the day for students who needed support as they came to terms with their classmate’s death, he said.
Talley isn’t surprised that Raven’s peers continued to honor her, even as they began their freshman year at a new school.
“She touched so many lives,” Talley said.
See page A6 for Raven Rud’s obituary.