CLASSMATES and staff at Kirkbie Kendal School have today paid tribute to 15-year-old Helena Farrell, whose body was found in woodland in the town on Friday night.

As pupils returned for the first day of term after the Christmas holiday, special support staff were in place to help them deal with their grief.

Headteacher Phil Hyman said a special assembly was held for Year 11 and 12 students this morning, while the school's dance studio has been given over as a space for reflection.

He said everyone at the school is 'very sad' and paid tribute to her immense talents.

"The entire school is in a state of shock following the sudden and tragic death of Helena Farrell," he said.

"Helena was a remarkable young lady. She was a wonderful musician who recently played the lead role in the school production of 'We Will Rock You'.

"As well as being a talented singer who sang with the Amabile Choir she had achieved Grade 7 Cello and played in the Westmorland Youth Orchestra.

"She was on track to achieve A*s and As in her GCSEs and she was a great sportswoman too, playing hockey and representing the school on many occasions.

"Helena was a much-loved member of the school and this tragedy will leave a tremendous hole in our community.

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends at this sad time.”

He said support for fellow pupils and staff would be in place for the days ahead.

"We have also started a special book, a condolence book, for students and staff to write in and record their positive memories of Helena.

"After it is completed it will be given to the family to keep.

"Also in the dance studio is a place for students to come and write about their feelings and thoughts on paper, which again will be collected and given to the family.

"We have asked students to access this support either individually or in small groups at break times, but that if they don't feel that they are coping during lessons, they can go to the dance studio."

Last summer, the Gazette reported on Helena's impressive performance in her music exams.

She was celebrated by the school after achieving a distinction for her grade seven cello exam and a merit in her grade six singing exam - both on the same day.

Helena also studied at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and performed at the 2012 South Cumbria Music Festival in Ulverston.