They remember an unforgettable smile: Mourners celebrate life of 13-year-old killed in Manchester | Manchester

WINDSOR — Over 100 people gathered Thursday to remember and celebrate the life of Zaniya Ann Wright, 13, who loved fashion and had an unforgettable smile, speakers said.

Speakers at the ceremony at The Lodge, including two of her teachers, remembered Wright as a bright spirit with the brightest of smiles.

“Her smile is something that I will truly never forget,” said Selina Santos, one of Wright’s former teachers. “It made other people, including myself, want to smile too.”

Santos said she talked with other educators and they said the same.

Wright was found dead June 18 in the basement of the South Adams apartment complex on Olcott Street in Manchester, 12 hours after her mother had reported her missing. The medical examiner said she had been strangled.

Police are continuing to investigate and have not made any arrests.

Santos admitted that Wright wasn’t always smiling. She wasn’t much of a morning person, so she could be a bit grumpy at the start of the school day, and could be counted on to roll her eyes a few times, Santos said.

Another of Wright’s teachers, Denise Meadows, said she got her fair share of eye rolls from Wright too. Sometimes she called Wright “Princess,” sometimes “Princess Mood Swing,” Meadows said.

Meadows remarked how Wright could bat her eyes, incredibly fast, and flash a smile. If she batted them slowly, however, and rolled her eyes, that was a sure sign of a mood swing, Meadows said.

Still, Meadows said she misses everything about Wright. “Make the sun, stars, and moon jealous with how bright you shine,” she said.

“Despite her eye rolling, she was just the sweetest kid with a heart of gold,” Santos said.

Beside her smile, Wright also gave great hugs, and always seemed to know when they were needed most, Santos said.

According to Wright’s obituary, she was born in Hartford and moved to Manchester when she was 3, attending Manchester schools. She was in seventh grade at Illing Middle School.

She “loved all things fashion and beauty-related,” the obituary said, adding that she took gymnastics and looked forward to becoming a cheerleader.

Educators get told often about the impact that they can have on their students, but forget the impact their students can have on them, she said.

“Zaniya was one of those students for me,” Santos said.

Meadows, said that it takes a village to raise a child, and now the village that raised Wright is wounded.

Bishop Rha-Sheen Brown, who delivered the eulogy, pointed out that sometimes it takes a child to raise a village.

“This young lady was not here by happenstance or circumstance, but she was here on purpose, for a purpose, and with a purpose,” Brown said.

“No matter where you are in your life right now, there is a message that God wants to get out of your life,” Brown said. Wright had a message, and she impacted many lives, combined families, and touched many hearts, and her message is not over yet, he said.

Wright may have been taken from her family tragically, “but it does not change the life that she is, and she was, and forever will be,” said Brown.