NORTON SHORES, MI – The Western Michigan Christian school community is mourning the sudden death of a high school student this week.
Alia Zuidema, 15, died as a result of a medical emergency on Saturday, April 29, 2023, WMC interim principal Clyde Rinsema told MLive/Muskegon Chronicle.
Zuidema was a freshman at WMC, where she played basketball, cross country and soccer.
Zuidema was described by school leaders as “an absolute gift from God who used her many talents as a shining light for Christ in everything she did,” according to a tribute posted to the school’s Facebook page.
“Alia had a great drive and a passion for everything she did because she lived on purpose,” the post states. “She lived by faith in Christ. That is where she drew her strength. Although our school community is rocked and shaken, it is with that faith we are able to find strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”
Even as a freshman, Zuidema quickly emerged as a leader among her peers, school leaders wrote.
“We remember the cross-country runner who, as a freshman, ran hard at the MHSAA state final this year but always joked with teammates on long runs in the woods,” according to the Facebook post. “The basketball player who had fun on the court while still being fiercely competitive. The soccer player who worked hard, scored goals, and still made her teammates laugh. The teammate that ate the chocolate tops off our scotcharoos or called an opponent a ‘silly goose.’ The student and classmate who thought the piano was too loud in choir or didn’t want to sit in a chair but always did her best because learning mattered to her.”
Pastors and counselors were brought into the school on Monday to provide support to students following Zuidema’s sudden death, Rinsema said.
WMC will host a candlelight vigil in Zuidema’s memory at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, at the WMU Outdoor Athletic Facility, located at 455 E. Ellis Road in Norton Shores.
A full obituary is expected to be posted to the Sytsema Funeral and Cremation Services website on Tuesday, May 2.
Alia Zuidema is survived by her parents, Jason and Anne Zuidema.
A funeral service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, May 5, at Second Christian Reformed Church, located at 2021 Sheldon Road in Grand Haven.
Visitation is scheduled from 2-4 p.m. and again from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Sytsema Funeral and Cremation Services – The Lee Chapel, located at 6291 Harvey St. in Norton Shores.