Buddy Benches keep Jayden and Montell’s memory alive at Hogan Prep Elementary

KANSAS CITY, Mo -- Two Kansas City boys killed in 2016 were honored today by their old school at a 5th grade recognition ceremony.

Jayden Ugwuh, 9, and Montell Ross, 8, were cousins who attended Hogan Prep Elementary. Detectives say their killers – who are still on the loose – opened fire on their College Avenue home.

As their family pleads for answers and justice, students and school administrators dedicated buddy benches in honor of the cousins.

Jayden would have been in fifth grade, and would have been recognized along with his classmates Tuesday.

It was a special day, with proud parents wearing smiles and carrying balloons as they celebrated the accomplishments of their fifth graders at Hogan Prep.

But some classmates were missing.

"We will dedicate our buddy benches for our two friends Montell and Jayden who passed away," said one of the students at the ceremony.

A pair of benches bearing the names of Jayden and Montell sat on stage during the ceremony.

Jayden Ugwuh and Montell Ross were cousins. The buddy benches were Principal Amber White’s idea.

"We just wanted to highlight the positive qualities of the two of them, and I think what really stands out about them to everybody is the wonderful friends they were to other kids," Amber White, principal of Hogan prep Elementary, said.

White said students who need a friend can sit on the bench so other students recognize them, just like Jayden and Montell would have done.

A theme of the ceremony was leadership and White hopes with the benches the boys will continue to be leaders even after their deaths.

"We think the buddy benches are a really great way to help teach kids to look for kids who maybe are feeling left out and to be more inclusive," White said.

Montell’s older brother spoke at the bench dedication, while his parents -- Jayden’s aunt and uncle -- sat in the audience.

"It was definitely overwhelming, but it definitely moved my heart," Montell's mom Aishah Coppage said. "Especially that Jayden’s name was in the program, you know that they didn’t forget about him."

The benches bring a bright spot for Aishah as she grieves her son and nephew.

FOX4 told you last week in our Problem Solvers: Crime Files that Kansas City police haven’t received any tips in the deaths of these two little boys. Since the story aired, detectives told us they have received a few tips.

"Those people that may have forgotten, those people that do know but put it in the back of their mind to forget, but being that their names and faces continue to pop up, they have no choice but to remember them," Aishah said.

As a family waits for justice to be done, they remember these two little boys.

"But those benches mean everything. They do."

Wednesday, students will move the benches out to the playground. Montell’s brother will be one of the students helping with that.

If you know anything about the murders, can provide information and remain anonymous by calling (816) 474-TIPS.