Area girl's memory lives on through grandfather's donation to her school

Kaylah Lentine was member of OL-Hometown media club

By Laura Bollin

The grandfather of a Hometown girl who died last summer after being struck by a truck while walking to school has donated $700 worth of camera equipment to the Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School media production club.

Don Wilkinson, the grandfather of Kaylah Lentine, has provided to the club five cameras, six storage cards, four micro-storage cards, five camera cases, two mini tripods, two battery chargers and three packs of rechargeable batteries. The school’s media production class and after-school club were run by Noreen Williams, who was a big influence on Kaylah, Wilkinson said.

Kaylah was killed in May after being struck by a pickup truck while crossing Southwest Highway near its intersection with Cicero Avenue. Kaylah was on her way to school, where she was to receive an award that day ceremony for her involvement in Students Against Destructive Decisions. She would have graduated from eight-grade less than a week later.

Kaylah loved learning about photography and video production, Wilkinson said. She left behind more than 107 videos chronicling her life on her YouTube channel, “Kapactlovesu.” One video shows her walk to her bus stop, depicting the sights along the way including a woman who roller skated down the street every morning.

“Kaylah loved OLHMS and the time she spent there as a student,” Wilkinson said in a letter to the school’s board of education. The donation was given to the school at a meeting Monday.

Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School Assistant Principal Katy Sprietzer said Kaylah was a very creative student.

“She was a prolific writer and artist,” Sprietzer said. “She was part of the media productions club, which is like our version of journalist in the middle school. They made movies and publicized events. This year, they do news reporting for OLHMS Weekly, and had Kaylah been here, she would have been a big part of that.”

The class met daily, and the club met once or twice a week after school, Williams said.

“She was great with acting, and she was great behind the camera,” Williams said. “We are putting together a segment about Kaylah for our weekly news program.”

The students watch the weekly program on Vimeo, an online video service, while in their homeroom period every Friday. The segment about Kaylah will air tomorrow, Nov. 30.

“She became part of our school family,” Williams said. “She had a smile on her face anytime she walked into class. That’s just how she was. She was one person I will never forget. She got into all of our hearts.”

The new camera equipment will help keep Kaylah ‘s memory alive at the school, Wilkinson said.

“I have always been into photography myself, and I used to buy Kaylah cameras,” Wilkinson said. “I wanted to do this out of the goodness of my heart for all they did for my granddaughter. The media production program was such an influential thing on my granddaughter. She left us all these videos. Without YouTube and without that class, none of this would exist today.”