Her photograph was placed in her place at the banquet.
Heurich's parents accepted her award before the celebratory dinner, and quietly slipped out.
The parents' attendance and Heurich's death "sent a message to all the other parents and their kids - how they should cherish their times together because it can end so quickly," said Smithsburg High School Principal Michael Shockey.
"I think the parents showed great courage coming here. We didn't want to prolong the agony any longer than we had to," said Joe Millward, supervisor of pupil personnel and guidance for the school board.
"She's certainly not forgotten by the kids, that's for sure."
"It's tragic," said School Board Member Doris J. Nipps. Nipps' twin sons graduated from Smithsburg this year, and knew Heurich well, she said.
"It's such a waste of a young life who had so much potential."
Nipps said she hopes Heurich's death is a lesson to the other students to be careful.
Pastor George Evans gave the invocation, and drew attention to the burden that Heurich's parents and fellow students face, followed by a brief moment of silence.
Heurich and the 107 other high school seniors were honored for achieving a grade point average of 3.7 or above.
Washington County schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr. praised the students for their hard work.
"Tonight is an example that higher standards do not mean that less people do well," Bartlett said. He said 24 more students were honored at the dinner this year than last year, and said the school system should demand higher standards in the future.
"You are the examples of what we would like every student in our schools to be like," he said.
Bartlett said he wanted to see 200 students at the dinner next year.
Bartlett also praised the parents.
"You are the part of our school system that seldom ever gets thanked. You've done a wonderful job and your son or daughter is an example of what's right with our school system."