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Ryanne Mace could light up a room with her outgoing personality and huge heart, friends and family say.
"Basically, she was the best kid anyone could hope for," Mary Kay Mace said of her only child. "She would never cause a second of trouble. Everybody loved her."
The 19-year-old Northern Illinois University student from Carpentersville was one of five students killed in Thursday's campus shooting.
"She was 10,000 times better than the best parts of each of us," the Mace family said in a statement. "She had everything going for her -- brains, beauty and an enormous heart of gold. Our hearts are broken."
Teachers at Dundee-Crown High School, where Mace was a 2006 graduate, describe Mace as an easy student to get to know.
"She shared a lot, wrote beautifully, was a perfect student," Dundee-Crown internship coordinator Janet Malecek said.
Susan Young, who taught Mace French for four years, recalled her former student as one of her brightest.
"She was one of those kids who 20 years from now I will still remember," Young said.
Mace, an avid violinist, sang in the instrumental choir and was very active in the music program, said Mark Bettcher, the school's orchestra and jazz director who had known Mace since 2001.
"She was an excellent violinist," Bettcher said of the young lady also known for a wicked sense of humor. "She was really funny, always going back and forth joking."
Lisa Maenpaa first met Mace when playing violin in Carpentersville Middle School's orchestra. As the pair moved on to high school, Mace and Maenpaa's friendship strengthened.
"We had a lot of fun. Every Friday night in high school we'd meet at T.G.I. Friday's by Spring Hill Mall and joke around with a group of friends," said Maenpaa, now a 20-year old sophomore at University of Illinois.
Maenpaa remembers her pal as "very loud -- someone who always spoke her mind."
The two covered their orchestra folders with pages upon pages of inside jokes, laughing away portions of each class period.
"We were pretty much inseparable," Maenpaa said."
The last time the friends spoke was through online instant messaging about a week ago, Maenpaa said.
A number of social networking sites, including Facebook and MySpace, have profiles dedicated to Mace and other victims of Thursday's shooting.
Duane Westberg, a next-door neighbor of the Mace family for 17 years, described Ryanne as "probably one of the best souls you would want to meet," Westberg said. "She was kind and outgoing, very smart and would help anybody."
That desire to help people led the sophomore to a major in psychology and possibly a career in school counseling.
"She knew exactly what she wanted to do," Dundee Crown Intern Coordinator Janet Malecek said. "It's ironic that she wanted to be a school counselor."
Funeral arrangements are pending.