What should have been a day of cake and cards for 12-year-old Ethan Chadwick, turned into a memorial after his tragic death last week in what his mother called an accidental shooting.
The Barnes County North School community gathered to release 400 balloons in his memory.
"And putting this together it's a nice sun shiny day out, we go outside, we get everything where we let go of the balloons. The kids have an opportunity to say happy birthday because it would've been his 13th birthday today," said Principal John Bruce.
Following the balloon ceremony, everyone participated in a root beer float special for $1.
The money will help the Chadwick family with expenses.
According to Ethan's family, root beer floats were his favorite drink.
"The support has been pretty good, I can't believe it," said Ethan's dad, Jerod Aldringer. "I just wanted to take this time to thank everybody for all of the support and everything that the school's done and all of the donations and paying forward. It's all helped and it's all going towards funeral costs and maybe some kind of donation program after that."
A memory wall was also set up at the school which included pictures of Ethan and post it notes.
Friends shared their favorite memories with their friend.
"Here we put forth a couple of our students and said let's put something positive up. Obviously last week wasn't something that was positive so let's end it in the right way," said Bruce.
Faculty members say that Ethan's smile was so contagious that it could light up a classroom.
"He was just that social person that had a contagious smile," said Technology Director Melissa Bitz. "His energetic personality touched many lives and the symbolism of today was just one of those confirmations again of how many lives he really touched in the short time that he was here with us."
As the community joined together, they showed how special Ethan truly was.
Donations can still be made to the Ethan Chadwick memorial fund at all Bank Forward locations.