Houston's Childhood School Holds Somber Tribute to Fallen Star

Children walked from the school to Houston's former home, then released balloons into the air.

Monday, Feb 13, 2012  |  Updated 11:16 AM EDT
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Elementary school students at the Whitney Houston Academy in New Jersey pay tribute to the late music icon by visiting her childhood home, standing silent while a flag hangs at half-staff and releasing a bouquet of white balloons into the air.

Elementary school students at the Whitney Houston Academy in New Jersey pay tribute to the late music icon by visiting her childhood home, standing silent while a flag hangs at half-staff and releasing a bouquet of white balloons into the air.

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Students at Whitney Houston's childhood school in New Jersey held a solemn procession to her former home and released white balloons into the sky Monday in tribute to the fallen star.

The school in East Orange, now named the Whitney E. Houston Academy of Performing Arts, organized the march and ceremony as a way to salute her life, organizers said.

Principal Henry Hamilton said he hopes Houston is "upstairs now, looking down on us and saying 'Right on, right on.'"

"I beg of every boy and girl to think in terms of what she accomplished," he told a group of students and local dignitaries gathered at a ceremony after the procession to her home.

"We will love you forever, Whitney, we will always remember your legacy," said East Orange Councilwoman Andrea McPhatter. "The gift of your music will continue to bless us for generations to come."

Children somberly stood in front of a flag at half-staff, as the National Anthem -- sung by Houston -- was played over loudspeakers.

Some in the crowd wept for the superstar, who was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel on Saturday afternoon. She was born in Newark and raised in East Orange.

Follow all of our Whitney Houston coverage here.

A bouquet of white balloons was released, as Houston's "Greatest Love of All" played aloud.

Students said Houston's rise from their school to worldwide fame served as an example of what they could accomplish.

"If she can do it, I can do it," said Kania Sheppard, 12. "So it just inspires me to try harder, and just like, work to achieve, and someday succeed what she succeeded."

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