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Shiloh Elementary dedicates Memory Garden

Shiloh Elementary fourth-grader Noah Helms and teacher assistant Robbie Lewis will always be remembered at the school where they spent many happy times.
   
Both died last year, but their lives inspired the birth of a Memory Garden dedicated Wednesday, June 4, 2008, at the school. “The Memory Garden will not mourn their passing, but serve as a way to remember and celebrate their lives and all that they gave to us,” said Mike Henderson, school principal.
   
More than 60 bricks were purchased either in memory or in honor of individuals who will now be a part of Shiloh for years to come. During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Henderson said the idea for the garden was born after the deaths of Robbie Lewis, a beloved teacher assistant at the school who died unexpectedly last semester, and Noah Helms, an 11-year old student who lost his battle with cancer August of last year.    
   
The garden was also created in honor of those individuals who have played a special role at Shiloh, such as Linda Fritz, who was principal at the school for 19 years. “The garden not only honors those that the Shiloh family has lost over the years, but it also honors everyone who has meant so much to us here at Shiloh,” Henderson said.
   
The ceremony included students reading poetry, a reading of the names on the memory list, and the release of butterflies and ladybugs in honor of the day.
   
Shiloh kindergarten teacher Chrissie Maness, who spearheaded the creation of the garden, had a very personal reason for doing so. Robbie Lewis was her teacher assistant and Noah had been a student. “I think Robbie would love this garden because it is what we did, help seeds blossom and grow, and nourish them as we could,” she said. “I’m most proud of what this garden means to the families and the teamwork that is the hallmark of Shiloh Elementary.”
   
The garden took three years to plan and implement, and also has an outdoor learning area to serve as an educational component. “This garden will also serve the Shiloh Community as a constant reminder of our honor and our duty as educators, to grow our students, to care for and nourish them, and to prepare our next generation for their future,” Henderson said.
   
Scott and Kelly Helms, Noah’s parents, also took part in the ceremony. “It’s overwhelming,” said Kelly Helms. “It’s wonderful to see all the kids being part of this day. I especially enjoyed the butterfly release because when Noah got sick, we were given some butterflies and we raised them.”
   
“It’s a beautiful garden,” said Scott Helms. “It’s amazing, it really is.”
   
Todd Haller of Monroe lost his mother, Jackie Haller, in a car accident in 2004. Then last spring, his ex-wife, Melissa Haller, was also killed in an automobile accident. Haller said he was on hand at the ribbon cutting for his children, Ryely Haller, 6, and Greyson, 9, both students at Shiloh, who lost a mother and grandmother.
   
“I think it’s a special thing for both my kids to be able to come here and remember the good times they had with their grandmother and especially their mom,” Todd Haller said. “It’s a place where they can lose themselves in their own thoughts and they both need that. It also shows them they’re not the only ones who are going through this type of loss, so they don’t feel lost and alone.” 
   
Donations of money, labor and/or materials were given by a Bright Ideas Grant from Union Power Cooperation, Rock Solid Concrete, Inc., McGee Brothers, Lanier Site Services, Providence Pest and the UCPS Maintenance Department. Portrait Homes donated flags, while Costco donated a fountain.
   
Area businesses that also donated toward the project were Rossini's Italian Restaurant, Dolphin Computers, Sylvan Learning Center and the Indian Trail Planning Department.
 

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, Publications Coordinator
Posted: Jun 06, 2008 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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