Gahanna Lincoln High School students packed Friendship Park Feb. 18 to share memories of teacher Andrew Hoying.

Hoying, 28, was a business teacher at the school since June 2014 and also served as a soccer coach.

The Gahanna-Jefferson school district released a media statement late Feb. 16 from Superintendent Steve Barrett, saying the district was made aware of Hoying's death Feb. 15.

"The entire Gahanna-Jefferson school community is deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Andrew Hoying, one of our high school teachers from the business department," he said. "We extend our sincere sympathies to his family during this difficult time."

Barrett said the district was consulting with grief experts at Nationwide Children's Hospital and is focused on meeting the emotional needs of students and staff.

Guidance counselors and mental-health specialists were available Feb. 16 at the high school and would be available throughout this week to provide support for any student or teacher in need.

Several community members took to social media to remember Hoying and spread word of the vigil.

At the vigil, Madison Kulow, a 2017 Gahanna Lincoln alumna, said she was a friend with Hoying in high school and after graduation.

She organized the gathering and collected notes from students about what Hoying had meant to them.

Kulow said she would provide the mementoes to Hoying's family.

"He was one of the best teachers Gahanna had," she said. "He cared to form relationships with students inside and outside school."

Kulow said he was a great friend.

"Like many of you, I didn't have him as a teacher, but I was in his classroom every day. He made everyone feel so welcome. It was never just a hello."

Kulow said Hoying would ask students about their family and their sports.

Senior Akira Johnson said every time she saw Hoying, he was smiling.

"He wanted to make sure everyone was OK before himself," she said.

Senior Kieran Girton said Hoying would acknowledge students in the hallway and ask how they're doing.

Sophomore Josh Gates said he knew Hoying as a coach and teacher.

"He was always positive and gave good messages," he said. "He was uplifting and always had a smile."

A Mass of Christian Burial for Hoying was scheduled for today, Feb. 21, at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Celina.

Staff and students from Gahanna and Franklin Heights High School in the South-Western City School District wrote condolences on the website that lists Hoying's obituary at www.dzendzelfh.com/ notices/Andrew-Hoying.

Makayla Broyles wrote that Hoying was her teacher at Franklin Heights.

"He was my absolute favorite teacher," she wrote. "When I got bullied and no one else would care to help, he stepped in. He had a big heart and a big bright smile. He loved his students as if they were his own kids."

Lincoln High School educational aide Pamela McCarthy wrote that she's very saddened for the family's loss.

"Andrew was an amazing human being," she wrote. "He brightened the halls of our high school on a daily basis. His warm smile and his charming personality truly made him a one of a kind. I will miss him as many others of our school family will."

In a statement Feb. 19, Barrett said, "We are all saddened by this sudden loss. Mr. Hoying had a positive impact on many students and will be missed."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla