Jamison Novello, a sophomore at South Side High School, died on March 22. She was 15.
“She was just like sunshine,” said Jamison’s mother, Kimberly McGuigan. “She was just constant movement from the time she was little — dancing, spinning and talking to everyone. She could hold a conversation with adults from when she was a toddler.”
Jamison loved the beach, swimming and Instagram, and her favorite thing in the world was dancing, McGuigan said.
Jamison began dancing in Rockville Centre at age 11. For one year, she took private lessons with Heather DeSantino, and assisted her in dance classes for children ages 4 to 6. DeSantino had since moved to Miami, but she and Jamison stayed in touch.
“She was probably my favorite student,” DeSantino said. “She was one of the most hardworking kids I ever had. She never missed a class and always showed up with a smile.”
At 13, Jamison was training at Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan five days a week. In February, she won a summer scholarship for choreography at the Artists Simply Human Dance Convention in New Brunswick, N.J.
“She was an amazing dancer,” said Jamison’s close friend Ashlynn Beauge, 15, a sophomore at South Side. “Just so passionate.”
Another friend, Maddie Gamberg, 15, also a sophomore at South Side, said she and Jamison loved going to concerts together. Last year, they attended performances by pop stars Post Malone and Halsey. “Halsey was her favorite artist,” Maddie said. “She loved her.”
Maddie and Ashlynn remembered her as optimistic, bubbly and friendly, with a silly sense of humor.
“If you were sitting alone at the lunch table, she would come up to you and try to make you laugh,” Maddie said. “She always cheered you up and never wanted to see anyone sad.”
Ashlynn agreed. “She would talk to anyone, no matter who you were,” she said. “She always kept an open door to new people. And that’s what we all loved about her.”
In addition to her mother, Jamison is survived by her father, Anthony Novello, her step-father, Michael McGuigan, and siblings Carter Rose, Beckett and Brooks. Visitation was held at Macken Mortuary in Rockville Centre on March 25 and 26. A funeral Mass was held at St. Agnes Cathedral on March 27. She was buried later that day at Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale.
Just three days after Jamison’s death, a page on GoFundMe.com called “Dance on Jame” had raised more than $35,000 for a dance scholarship in her name. At press time Tuesday, the campaign, created by Kathy Dunne, a friend of McGuigan, had reached more than $53,000.
“Jamison was a beautiful girl who lit up the room with her smile and positive energy,” Dunne wrote on the page. “Her bubbly giggle was infectious. . . . Those of you who knew Jame know how much she loved to dance.
“We want to set up this scholarship so others can pursue their dream in a dance training program the same way Jame had started,” she continued. “We want a little of her sparkle to continue to shine in others!”
“There’s nothing else she would have wanted,” McGuigan said. “This is the only way for her legacy not to end on March 22.”
For those in need of support, the Long Island Crisis Center’s 24/7 hotline can be reached at (516) 679-1111.