EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 24, 2013

A dream cut short

ANDOVER — Colleen Ritzer was living her dream, everyone who knew her says.

Teaching math at Danvers High School, she was happy, energized and devoted to her students, they say.

“She was just an amazing person who loved life,” said Jennifer Berger, who graduated with Ritzer from Andover High School in 2007. The two also went to Sanborn Elementary and West Middle School together.

Berger was with Ritzer Saturday night watching the Red Sox at Berger’s home, just days before police say Ritzer, 24, of 5 Dascomb Road was slain by a 14-year-old Danvers High student.

“She was so kind and caring,” Berger said. “She could find joy in the littlest things in life. If she was having a bad day she would find a quote from a song that would turn it around.

“I just want people to know how amazing she was ... she was my go-to best friend. I just can’t believe she is gone,” Berger said before bursting into tears.

Others recalled Ritzer as someone with a great personality who always made them smile.

Dan Yanofsky, who also graduated in the class of 2007, said he first met Ritzer in a TV production class taught by retired high school teacher Joe Spanos.

“Colleen was one of the sweetest and most caring people I’ve ever met,” Yanofsky said. “I never saw her with anything but a smile on her face, and she had a positive attitude about everything. She cared more about her family and friends than anything else.”

He said he couldn’t believe what he was hearing when he heard the news yesterday.

“My first reaction was just how unfair it was for her to go this way,” he said. “This shouldn’t happen to anyone, but it feels even more cruel when I know just how kind and happy she was. When they said her name on the news I felt sick to my stomach.”

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