Lucy Goulding, who lived in Tarring, was unaware she was to receive the honour at Chatsmore Catholic High School’s prom, on Friday.
The 16-year-old was rushed to Southampton General Hospital on Thursday, where she underwent an emergency operation on her brain, but died the following morning.
Lucy’s mum, Antonella Goulding, 40, said: “She was just amazing.
“She was an artist, a baker, an actress. She had no fear. She had friend after friend.”
Lucy’s grand-dad, Chris Goulding, 64, of Rusper Road, Worthing, added: “I would never have expected this in a million years.
“She touched so many hearts. She did more in 16 years than I have in 60.”
Lucy is survived by her dad Paul, 40, brother Sean, 12, and step-sister, Amelie, one.
For more tributes see the Worthing Herald, Thursday, July 4.