Hollie Mackay, 15, had been too late for the school bus but the Invergordon Academy fourth-year pupil caught a later service, by which time dusk had fallen.
As she got off at her destination near her home village of Kildary, Easter Ross, she was struck by a car and suffered serious injuries.
Hollie was taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness following the incident on Wednesday at around 5.30pm on the A9, north of Shandwick Inn, but she died later of her injuries.
The acting headteacher of the 430-pupil Invergordon Academy paid tribute to the popular and talented pupil.
Alison Drew described Hollie as an "able young girl.
Ms Drew said: "Hollie was a popular and thoughtful member of our close-knit school community.
"She was a talented musician, a keen skier and drama was one of her real passions. She was a key player in the Invergordon Youth Theatre and also attended drama activities at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.
"Hollie represented the school in plays, musical performances, sports and other events. She had taken part in an after-school drama session immediately before the accident.
"She was an outstanding pupil, who was popular with her friends and highly regarded by school staff. She will be greatly missed by all of us. Our thoughts are with her family and friends."
Ms Drew said that special assemblies had been held at the school yesterday and rooms were set aside for pupils to receive counselling and support.
"Both staff and volunteers were available to support our young people at this difficult time."
Some of Hollie's friends community paid tribute to her on a social networking site.
Anna Mack tweeted: "Only the good die young. Rest in peace Hollie Mackay, you were such a lovely girl."
Another, "Luci Simps" of Invergordon tweeted: "Can't get over the fact she's gone ...Graphics won't be the same.
"She's singing and acting with the Angels up there <3 Crying watching the news. RIP Hollie Mackay."
Another girl named Chloe wrote on the site: "Did not expect to go to school today and hear the news that Hollie Mackay is dead... RIP Hollie, thoughts go to all her friends and family x"
A Police Scotland spokesman said: "As a result of the collision a teenage girl suffered serious injuries and was taken to Raigmore Hospital by ambulance where, she sadly died."
The A9 was closed for several hours after the accident while an investigation was carried out. Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact them.