Kotzebue High School wears its support for Ashley Johnson-Barr
Friday was game night for the Kotzebue High School Girls Basketball Team. The Huskies prepare to take on Barrow for the Western Conference Championship at Dimond High School, and they sport a new look for the game.
Purple is not one of the Huskies' colors, but it was the favorite of one of their fans. The color honors "Dimples," the nickname of Ashley Johnson-Barr. The 10-year-old girl vanished from Rainbow Park on Sept. 6, 2018.
Search crews found her body eight days later in an area east of Kotzebue. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled. Peter Wilson is charged with nine counts in connection with Ashley's death — three counts of first-degree murder, four of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, plus one count each of kidnapping and evidence tampering.
The sister of girls' head coach Jade Hill came up with the idea to wear the the special shirts to honor Ashley.
"Every basketball team needs a warm-up shirt, something to cover their uniform. I mean the T-shirts were the most simple, practical thing that we could show that we were united," Hill said.
The T-shirts first appeared about halfway into the season. The Kotzebue boys team first wore the special shirts, then the girls realized they needed to do something to honor their young fan.
"All of us in our community is very close. We just love one another, and this was just so tragic, and we just care for one another, and we're just showing everyone that we're doing it for her," said senior captain Alanna Conwell.
No one appreciates the gesture more than Ashley's father.
"It's just showing the respect, the love, and honor, for our daughter Ashley," said Scotty Barr.
He says the support helps, especially his other children.
"They know that their sister is not here. But then again, their strength has given us strength as well too. She's given us strength to move on, on a daily basis," Barr said during the game.
That's not always easy.
"I would trade everything for this, for my daughter to come back to go watch this with us," said Barr.
It's been six months since Ashley died, but Kotzebue High School is doing its part to keep her spirit alive.
Correction: This story has been edited to correct the name of Kotzebue High School Girls Basketball Team's senior captain.
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