A memory garden by be built at Northview High School to honor all the students who have died while enrolled in the school since 1988.
Linda Nicoson, a local resident, mother and grandmother, who came up with the idea, says too many young people have lost their lives needlessly in the past few years.
"We don't have kids to waste," Nicoson said. "The Memory Garden would remind the students that cars can kill, guns can kill, alcohol and drugs can kill.
"Part of being young is the feeling that you're immortal," Nicoson mused. "Maybe seeing the Memory Garden would make the kids realize that risky behavior can hurt them but they do have control over their destiny if they use good judgment.
"Another purpose for the garden is to pay tribute to those who have died. It's important that all of these kids be remembered."
Nicoson and Northview Student Council president, Ashley Vitz, will request permission for the project from the Clay Community Schools Board of Trustees at their next meeting at North Clay Middle School at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 25. They would like anyone who is interested in the Memory Garden to attend the meeting.
Nicoson has already received a lot of positive input. Many teachers verbalized support for the idea. Representatives of the Northview Student Council and SADD program said those organizations will maintain the memorial. Some individuals and businesses have pledged money to help fund the venture. More funding is needed, however. Checks can be made out to the Northview High School Student Council.
The Garden would also include the names of teachers and other personnel who died while employed at the school.
Nicoson doesn't have all the details of the garden finalized. She said it probably will be a large sandstone with the Knight emblem. Below it will read "In loving memory of". Individual markers will be imbedded into the sandstone with the names of the deceased. The entire stone will sit atop a concrete slab so little maintenance will be required.
Nicoson compiled a list of deceased students and staff members from yearbooks. She's not positive that the list is conclusive and requests that she be notified if any name was omitted.
The names and dates of death are:
- Tonya Pickett-11/18/88
- Joe Lucas-9/10/94
- Steve Draper-5/27/95
- Teacher Jim Buell-12/13/95
- Shawn Cooksey-2/17/96
- Eric Jordan-11/6/96
- Staff member Annette Anderson-11/28/96
- Gina Kirchner-3/24/99
- Connie Wirta-10/8/99
- Tony Stockwell-3/2000
- Sean Mroczek-6/19/02
- Melanie Bemis-1/8/03
Josie Kirchner, the mother of Gina Kirchner said she thought the memory garden was a good idea.
"I feel that teens today are so involved in their lives," she said. "They think it could never happen to them. Maybe if it's impacted into their heads that it could be their name on the memorial, they might drive a little more carefully.
"We've had a memorial for Gina at state roads 59 and 46 since the day of the accident," Kirchner continued. "She was 16. People tell me they drive a little slower when they see it.
"I think it's important to remember the ones we've lost. As for Gina I know she has many friends. It makes a mother feel good to know her child is remembered and not forgotten. That helps me cope.
"I still don't have answers," Kirchner vented. "I'm a strong believer in faith and God. I believe Gina's in a better place. God needed help with His work. That's why she's there. We have to have faith that some day we'll have the answers."
Linda Nicoson hopes that the Memory Garden will make sure all of the young students are remembered. She also hopes its effect will prevent the need to add any more names.