Jaime Guttenberg

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Known as a “little firecracker,” Jaime Taylor Guttenberg lit up any room she walked into. Whether she put all of her energy into dance, school or her family and friends, Jaime had a hunger for adventure that made her passionate about anything that she set her heart on. Fourteen-year-old Jaime was born on July 13, 2003 in South Florida. She was the daughter of Jennifer and Fred Guttenberg and the younger sister of her 17-year-old brother, Jesse Guttenberg. Throughout her life, Jaime was smart, dedicated, loving and compassionate. “Jaime was the best daughter ever, the best sister ever and the best friend ever,” Jaime’s mother Jennifer Guttenberg said. Jaime’s friends would also describe her as energetic and feisty. With her big smile, Jaime was known to cheer anyone up and spread happiness wherever she went. “Jaime’s personality was crazy. She was literally just a little ball of energy; there isn’t another way to describe her,” senior Jessica Luckman said. “She never failed to light up the room or to make someone laugh.” Jaime attended Country Hills Elementary School and then Coral Springs Middle School. She transferred to Westglades Middle School in seventh grade where she already had many friends attending the school. Jaime was known for her sheer dedication to dance. She was extremely talented and amazed others with her flexibility. She also worked very hard to increase her knowledge of different choreography and styles. “She caught my eye with her flexibility but caught my heart with her humor and determination,” team director Danielle Mednick said. “I’m the type of teacher who could care less about your talent, but rather your will to work and never give up. Jaime never gave up.” Jaime was a part of the Dance Theatre Extreme Team and danced for at least 13 hours a week in the Parkland studio. In addition to the weekly training, she also attended dance competitions and once took home second place for her solo. “I had the team write ‘why they dance’ three years ago,” Mednick said. “Jaime wrote a long essay, but what she said, it’s exactly what she stands for: ‘I dance because it makes me feel possibilities are endless and limits don’t exist. Every time I leap, I feel as though I’ve touched the stars.’” To honor Jaime, a dance mom in Los Angeles came up with the idea to wear orange ribbons to their dance competition, since orange was Jaime’s favorite color. After posting this to Facebook, studios across the nation have worn orange ribbons to show their support. The movement has spread worldwide with thousands of people donning the ribbons and sharing their support on social media, including the American Ballet Theatre in New York, where performers wore orange ribbons during their performances. However, the support has not stopped with dance studios. Members of Dance Theatre performed on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and not only did the staff of professional dancers wear orange ribbons for Jaime, but the guests aboard the ship did as well. Additionally, the casts of well-known plays, such as “Hamilton” and “Phantom of the Opera,” have worn orange ribbons during their performances to show support. “The overwhelming support from the ship dancers, as well as complete strangers, was honestly insane,” sophomore Alyssa Goldfarb said. “We’d be in random places, and passengers would come up to us to ask if we were the dancers from Parkland. They would offer their condolences for Jaime, and many would tell us they were coming to our performance to support us and her.” In the room where Jaime rehearsed at the dance studio, the DTX has a chalkboard wall that is covered with different quotes and messages. At the beginning of the 2017-2018 dance season, all of the team members wrote quotes that inspired them on the wall. Jaime wrote, “dreams and dedication are a powerful combination.” “To preserve her quote, one of the dads on our team sealed it and put plexiglass over it to make sure nothing ever happened to it,” Luckman said. “We then erased all the other quotes we had written around it.” In addition to dancing, Jaime loved to listen to music. According to her friends, her favorite song was “Rewrite the Stars” from “The Greatest Showman,” and she could always be found singing karaoke or making up dance moves to the lyrics. Along with dancing and singing, Jaime was known for her love of cheese. Whether she had mounds of parmesan cheese on her pasta or was eating Cheez-It crackers, In Memorium • Jamie Guttenberg 11 Design by Brianna Fisher she always had the biggest smile on her face. “One time we were at Pasquale’s, and she decided to ask for an extra plate so that she could open the parmesan cheese and dump the entire thing on her plate,” freshman Lexi Sealy said. “I forced her to eat it with a spoon because it was so disgusting to see her eating it with her fingers, no matter how much she loved it.” Jaime always made it a priority to get to know people, especially her teachers. She was able to open up and state her opinion without embarrassing anyone in the process. Her easygoing mentality allowed her to easily make friends and bond with people. “My relationship with most of my students is very personal. Besides being their teacher and their instructor, I work with becoming friendly with them as well,” DECA teacher Mitchell Albert said. “It came very naturally for Jaime and I. I knew her grandmother, who used to be the secretary at our front office, so I made an attempt to get to know her at the beginning, and it just blossomed from there.” After arriving at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Jaime became very involved with DECA, an international association that prepares high school students for the workforce in business. Jaime was in the finance class and regularly attended their field trips, including the trips to Disney World and the Miami Heat’s court. Jaime also qualified to attend Florida DECA CDC, a statewide competition, which took place from March 1-4. “At DECA States, the organization gave out four scholarships to DECA students in honor of the four victims that were involved with DECA, including Jaime,” sophomore Hannah Levine said. “It is really heartwarming to know that she continues to help people and leave an amazing legacy.” Jaime was very passionate about trying her hardest at any task. As a straight-A student, Jaime was motivated and determined to achieve her goals. She never gave up and always encouraged others to work hard so that they could succeed. “Jaime was very genuine. You run into all types of people in high school and with her, she probably wanted to get to know you, and she wanted to share her thoughts and dreams with you,” Albert said. “Everything she did she went for. She did her best with her DECA competition and always did her best with her dance competitions. She did her best with her work, and for a freshman, it was a little unique because not all freshman do their best since they think they are just a freshman.” Many people also classify Jaime as outgoing. She was always the first person to crack a joke, and she never stopped making people laugh. “I know everyone says it, but Jaime was really the funniest person and the life of the party, and she always wanted to make sure that others were put before herself,” Sealy said. “I don’t think that you can find a lot of people these days with that quality.” In the future, Jaime wanted to become a pediatric physical therapist to be able to help children with limb deformities. While Jaime was working toward that goal, she volunteered with organizations, such as the Friendship Initiative, helping out those with disabilities. Jaime also worked with children with special needs through dance and fitness classes and was a member of the Best Buddies club at MSD. “I just want everyone to know that Jaime was so much more than just an image plastered on the news because she was so kind, and she would even help her neighbor who had a disability,” Goldfarb said. “She spent a lot of time helping others and was just an all-around great girl.” Jaime has left a lasting impact, not only on her friends, but also on people around the world. Even in hard times, Jaime was able to look on the bright side and find a positive aspect to focus on. “Jaime impacted my life, and I don’t know if she even realized it. That’s the type of person she was, though; she couldn’t not impact your life,” Luckman said. “Even when she was complaining about something, she still found the good in it. She always knew how to make you smile.” Jaime looked at a situation with a glass half full type of attitude. Her confident outlook on life transferred positive energy to any room that she walked into. Jaime’s love for her family and friends and her passion for dance will always be remembered and cherished by those who were close to her. Jaime will forever be in the hearts of the people whose lives she has impacted so greatly. Story by Brianna Fisher; photos courtesy of Lyndsey Sponder and Jennifer Guttenberg