The Olentangy Liberty High School community paid tribute to two former students with a moving display at the school's first football game of the season.

Now, a permanent memorial to Gavin Schlotterbeck and Hunter McClelland is in the works. The pair died July 17 in a two-vehicle crash on Africa Road near Berkshire Middle School.

Allissa Thornton, a 17-year-old senior at Liberty, said Schlotterbeck and McClelland deserved a one-of-a-kind remembrance. She said she and her fellow cheerleaders and their coaches decided on selling bubbles at Liberty's Aug. 25 football game.

"Hunter and Gavin were really special and unique," she said. "We wanted to do something that was unique and special for them."

Thornton said the moment when a crowd of hundreds blew bubbles after the national anthem was "absolutely incredible" and "really emotional."

"I knew they were looking down and smiling at us," she said.

Money from the bubble sale will go toward a permanent memorial to McClelland and Schlotterbeck.

Between the bubble sale and private donations, Thornton said students have raised more than $5,000. She said the location and form of the memorial -- possibly a bench or a tree with a plaque -- have not been determined.

Thornton said Liberty staff members have been receptive to the idea of placing the memorial on school grounds.

She said she was inspired by her friendship with McClelland, whom she met in elementary school, to help organize the efforts to remember the two students.

"She was such a good friend," Thornton said. "She just always knew what to say. She showed me how to be fearless."

Thornton said she hopes the permanent memorial is in place before the end of the school year.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@twgallick