‘She was always smiling’: Hunter’s Creek Middle School comes together in honor of Maddie Soto

ORLANDO, Fla. — As the investigation continues into what happened to Maddie Soto, members of her school community came together Saturday to support one another.


They held a prayer vigil at Focal Point Church, in Orlando.

Hundreds of parents, teachers, fellow students, and school staff joined in prayer to honor the life of the 13-year-old.

“Our community is hurting,” said Pastor Andrew Daniel during the service. “We are here today, together, because that’s what this community is about.”

Read: Madeline Soto’s body found in rural Osceola County

Maddie Soto went missing on Monday, and later was found dead in a wooded area in Osceola County.

Her mother’s boyfriend, Stephen Sterns, is now the primary suspect in her disappearance, detectives said.

Sterns being held at Osceola County jail and faces multiple child sex battery charges.

Maddie was described a child full of light and love.

Read: 2 killed after motorcycle was rear-ended on I-4, troopers say

“She was always smiling,” said Becky Daniel, her former teacher. “Friday was an awful day because the kids quickly found out about it; we’re a digital school, they saw what was going on. And I knew at that moment I wasn’t just their math teacher. I was there to comfort them.”

The event was organized just moments after Maddie’s death was confirmed by investigators.

For teachers, parents, and students, Maddie’s death is a tough reality that has impacted the entire school.

Read: Community holds prayer vigil for Madeline Soto

“In times when there’s tragedy, we need to find comfort, and I think this is one of those times when the community needs to come together,” said Pastor Andrew Daniel. “We believe that the church’s roles are to bring this community together.”

During the vigil here at focal point church, organizers gave out little green pins.

They mark the school’s colors, but also serve as a visual reminder that the community will stay together as they look to one another to heal from the tragedy.

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