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Chester High grad who died in crash recalled with praise

A dependable student and friend, a natural beauty, a fierce competitor, a mentor to peers, a "vivacious" teenage girl full of life.

That's how those who knew Alayna Nicole Hill describe the 18-year-old killed Saturday when a car she was a passenger in ran off the road about five miles outside of Winnsboro in Fairfield County - striking a tree and overturning.

The driver was injured and taken to a hospital, the Highway Patrol said. Both Alayna and the driver were wearing seatbelts.

Alayna was born in Rock Hill, the daughter of Fred Wallace Hill and Tracey Bukovac Hill, and graduated from Chester High School in 2011. She had been attending York Technical College.

Chester High teacher Wanda Mayhugh said she will miss the light Alayna seemed to project everywhere.

"Alayna was one of the students who literally lit up a room when she was in here," said Mayhugh, who taught Alayna English, SAT preparation, and public speaking - at which she said Alayna was "wonderful."

"I don't think I've had a student that was as full of life as she was," she said.

Alayna was like a beauty queen, pulling off any fashion look she wanted, but also a little tomboyish, said cousin Eric Hill, 28.

She was a "pure" beauty, innocent, the "baby doll" of the family, he said - but she also "knew how to fish."

She worked for two years as an office assistant for Tony Lancaster, Chester High School Assistant Principal.

"You have to be choosy about who your office helpers are," Lancaster said. "I never had to bat an eye. Any type of task I gave her was always done correctly."

Alayna even helped Lancaster learn how to use his new cell phone. And better, she would tell him what other students were saying about him and advise him on what he should do, Lancaster said Wednesday.

"She was a good, normal student," he said. "I would love for my daughter to aspire to be like her."

Alayna might have been tardy to a class from time to time - and a bit talkative in class - but that didn't slow down her progress, teachers and classmates said.

In art class, she would finish her projects - to which she loved to add dancing elephants and other lively cartoon characters - and then help other students develop their ideas, said teacher Haley Bryant.

On the soccer field, Alayna played aggressively to win the ball. She'd even play through injuries if it meant she could help her team, said Luke Morrissey, Alayna's soccer coach for two years.

But she was also a mentor - comforting other players when they'd make mistakes and helping them improve their game, said friend and former teammate Adrienne Houston, now a student at Winthrop University.

Alayna spent most of her time with her best soccer buddies, and she made things fun, said friend Justin McManus, recalling a trip to Walmart during which they raced bicycles and Alayna started a fight with toy swords.

Her playful, friendly spirit made her a popular girl.

She went on to win Miss Senior 2010-2011 during her last year at Chester High, an honor voted on by her fellow students.

When it came to school spirit, Alayna was always cheering at football games while painted in school colors.

She was "one of the more visible" students at the school, said Principal Jeff Gardner.

Alayna was always helping everyone, he said, including administrators and struggling students.

"She volunteered for a lot of things around here," Gardner said. "So we all felt pretty close to her."

Alayna also was memorable to those who knew her outside of school.

"I watched that child grow up in my chair," said Allyson Rogers, the family's beautician.

As family and friends prepare to pay final respects, Rogers was asked by the family to do what she's done for Alayna many times since she was a little girl - her hair.

"She was a precious, precious, precious girl," Rogers said. "She loved her hair to be neat. She kept her ends trimmed."

There wasn't a question of whether Rogers would help make Alayna beautiful one more time.

"From the time she's been little until now," Rogers said, "she has not sat in anybody's chair but mine.

"She wouldn't have wanted anybody else going in their messing with her hair."

Services for Alayna Hill

Visitation: 6-8 tonight at Barron Funeral Home, 133 Wylie St., Chester

Funeral: 2 p.m. Friday at New Hope United Methodist Church, 2149 W. Chester School Road, Chester

Burial: Following the funeral at Bethlehem United Methodist Church Cemetery in Blackstock.

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