SIDNEY, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – A strong message of hope was conveyed today as Sidney students marked AK Strong Day.

Kids from kindergarten through 12th grade are supporting Anielle McEwan-Lomnicki, better known as AK, as she recovers from a devastating injury at the hands of an alleged drunk driver.

Kindergarten through 2nd grade students gathered in the elementary school cafeteria first thing this morning for a picture wearing their AK Strong T-shirts.

Health Education Teacher Jon Yurka said faculty, staff and students want AK to know that she’s missed and they’re eager for her return.

“She is someone who always perseveres. She’s a team leader. Just a very gentle, warm-hearted individual.”

All 1100 students posed for photos throughout the day today in the hopes of motivating the basketball star to work hard at her recovery so they can see her soon.

Throughout the campus there are signs of support, including AK Alley near the middle school wing, and messages of love and caring plastered all over her locker.

Megan Lewis said, “We were all heartbroken to a certain extent, no matter if we knew her or not because any student being risked like that is sad, it’s horrible to hear about. But, as a school, we definitely did stand up and do all we could to support her.”

Lewis and Katelyn Jackson are officers in Sidney Students Against Destructive Decisions or SSADD.

The fact that one of their own could be so tragically injured on the way home from school has served as a reality check.

Jackson said, “We live in a small town and we didn’t really expect for this sort of thing to happen. The next thing we know, AK is just walking home and she’s hit by a car and she’s in the hospital. So, it brought a realness to the world. This can happen. This can happen to anyone at anytime.”

What was originally intended to be a single photo of SSADD members wearing their shirts blossomed to involve the entire school district.

And the support spreads into the community, with many downtown businesses displaying AK signs in their windows.

Yurka, who is the SSADD advisor, said the underlying message is powerful.

“It can happen to anyone at any place. And with our students, we’re really just pushing for, listen, choices are very important. They can impact many people, not just yourself, and with those actions, there are consequences.”

Yurka said the goal is to have the half dozen large group photos set up in AK’s hospital room so that she sees them the next time she wakes up and knows how much she is loved and missed.