Monroe High honors teen police say was killed by father

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — The Union County community is mourning the loss of Zaria Burgess. The 15-year-old Monroe High School sophomore was eager to join the dance team this school year.

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"She was here every day. She was always so exuberant when it came to 'What time do I need to be there? What do I need to do?'" said Alan Sturdivant, who is the band director at Monroe High School.

Sturdivant prepared for the first football game of the season Friday night. He said the team and attendees were asked to wear blue to honor Zaria.

"Monday was color day, which is our spirit week, and the kids, themselves, got together and decided they were going to wear blue," he said.

Zaria was allegedly killed by her father Sunday morning.

Joshua Burgess turned himself in on Sunday, and he admitted to the murder. He's now facing several charges, including first-degree murder and statutory rape.

"We've been really focused on continuing," Sturdivant said.

Along with a moment of silence before the game, the school plans to hold a balloon release for Zaria.

The band director said they'll play her favorite song, "Velvet Rope," Friday.

"She was a part of the Red Diamonds dance team and the Red Diamonds name means so much, because Red Diamonds are rare," Sturdivant said. "And we know diamonds are forever, so her spirit is going to live on with us forever."

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