ONEIDA, Tenn. — An East Tennessee community is mourning the loss of a young Scott County boy.
Ryelin Acres, 10, of Oneida drowned while swimming in White Oak Creek at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area Tuesday afternoon.
Rescue crews recovered his body Wednesday morning.
Ryelin was an incoming fifth grader at Burchfield Elementary School in Oneida.
When the staff at the school heard a 10-year-old was missing, they prayed it wasn't one of their own.
Their hearts broke for the Acres family when they learned it was a student many of the teachers knew and loved.
Ryelin's fourth-grade teacher Hannah King said he loved being outside.
"He was all over the playground, all the time," she said.
And he was a fun kind to be around.
"All boy. Just kind of rambunctious and funny," said King. "Definitely he had jokes."
King got to know Ryelin pretty well over the last school year.
"He was a great little boy," she said. "He had a lot going for him."
When King heard that Ryelin was missing, she stayed positive that he would be found unharmed.
"I was still hopeful that it was a search and rescue," she said. "Then we were told this morning that they recovered his body."
She's in shock. King never thinks when she says goodbye to a student that it could be for the last time.
"You just really take things like that for granted sometimes," said King. "I just think, I'll see him next year. But I won't see him next year."
She hopes that Ryelin is remembered as a good friend,.
"He was definitely the guy that you would want on your side," said King.
And a loving big brother to his sister.
"Most of the time, older brothers are like, you know, get off! But he just would scoop her up and give her a great big hug," said King. " And I know that they shared a lot of love and my heart is really broken for her today."
As King prepares for a new batch of fourth graders, she'll always remember Ryelin for the award he walked away with at the end of last year: The Most Improved Citizenship Award.
"He had come so far just this past year, and we were so so proud of him," said King.
Burchfield Elementary Principal Tonja Crabtree said a counselor will be available for students during the first few days of school.
King said when teachers get back together in a couple weeks there's no doubt they'll plan something to help out Ryelin's family.