After facing another tragic loss of one of its fellow students, the Northview High School campus was forced, once again, to come face-to-face with the frailty of its own existence.
A monument, located at the school's rear entrance, currently has the names of 22 deceased NHS students and faculty members, dating back to 1987. The idea came about when Linda Nicoson, a Brazil resident whose two daughters graduated from the school, wanted to give students a reminder of what could happen if they engaged in reckless behavior.
"It just seemed like we were having an awful lot of people (at Northview) dying," Nicoson said. "I thought they had something like this to look at, they would think about what they were doing."
The monument is specifically set up as a remembrance for students and faculty members who've passed away while at the school. Nicoson first brought up the idea to have a monument at a school board meeting. She said she initially feared people would be reluctant to help her raise the necessary funds, but quickly found the community was very eager to offer up assistance.
Nicoson has also received a great deal of support from local businesses in Brazil. The original stone was constructed by R.L. Nevins General Contractors.
Another contributor to the stone was Suger N' Spice Florists. Every year, when a deceased member of the student body would have graduated, the shop provides bouquets at the monument to commemorate what would have been the students' final day of high school.
Jennifer Pugh, a special services faculty member and senior sponsor for the memorial, has had an active role in the memorial since its inception. She said she was happy to have an active role in the memorial as it serves as a living tribute for the deceased.
"It's a reminder that all the kids are still here with us," Pugh said. "It's a good lasting memory and it's good for the students, families and parents."
The stone has gone through various reconstruction processes. The Northview Memory Garden was created in 2003, which placed a flower garden around the stone. The garden was slow to produce until 2006, when then Northview student Michael Gallion took donations for a large-scale landscaping project throughout the community and worked with various local work crews to produce flowers at the site.
Unfortunately for the community, a 23rd name will be added to the memorial in the coming weeks, following the death of Halie Hite, a 15-year-old Northview freshman who was killed in a single-vehicle accident Oct. 8. Nicoson said her name could be etched into the stone as early as this week.
Nicoson said it was important for the monument to be constructed as it gives students a reminder they can die just as easily as the sick or elderly. She said she used to share their youthful sentiments on invincibility until her senior year when a classmate was killed after being struck by lightning.
She said it didn't occur to her until that moment how quickly life can be taken away.
"Kids just don't think about it," she said when asked why she thought they tend to engage in potentially dangerous behavior. "I did this because I'm trying to save lives. If kids see their friends on that stone instead of in a car with them, it's my hope they may think about what they're doing and will be careful."
Nicoson said while the damage done to students who've lost their friends is no doubt damaging, it can't compare with the loss endured by parents. She said even the thought of losing one of her two daughters was too devastating to comprehend and that when she conceived the idea of the memorial, her greatest hope was that students would think of the irreparable damage something like this could have on parents.
"All these cases (of teenage death), you just can't know what they do to these parents," Nicoson said. "It's a loss they will never get over."
Nicoson said she hoped to give all students a message regarding the desires of parents.
"If we put 17 years into raising you," she said, "we want to get 70 back."