‘We’re a family’: High school pays tribute to Lily Hower, Jacob Jensen

NEBRASKA CITY – Nebraska City High School Cheerleading Coach Tiffany Tharp was overwhelmed by a heartwarming gesture members of her cheer squad and the girls basketball team made on Saturday.

The group told fans and players to support leukemia awareness and suicide prevention by wearing orange and yellow to the home basketball games vs. Auburn. The idea was to honor Lily Hower and Jacob Jensen, who were both laid to rest last week.

Lily, the daughter of Matthew and Amber Hower, passed away – surrounded by her family – on Dec. 28 after a battle with leukemia. She was eight-years-old.

Jake, a former student at NCHS, died on Jan. 1 at the age of 19. He’s the son of Kelli Jensen and Jon Jensen. He graduated high school last spring and was attending Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

Tharp, who also serves as the school’s life-skills teacher, credits the atmosphere Principal Brian Hoover has created where students develop relationships with each other and with educators.

“It really was important to us, when it came to Jake, for them to understand they are our ‘why.’ We want them to be able come to us if they have a problem and hopefully not result to something like that. Overall, it was just a sad week and it was just a way to try to uplift people’s spirits.”

Volunteers created a basket full of yellow and orange ribbons and handed them out to fans last weekend.

The school was open during the student’s holiday break on Jan. 3 for anyone who needed to talk.

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