Veterans Memorial Garden Dedicated 11.11.2015
The Story Behind the Veterans’ Memorial Garden
In the fall of 2012, a small group of high school students (students in an Environmental 2 class) proposed the development and installation of a permanent memorial garden on the HS campus, to honor those who had given their lives in service to country and community - military members, police officers and emergency responders. Environmental 2 is an honors-level class where students are challenged to solve problems or highlight practices which create positive change in the environment around us.
The students were motivated to create the memorial garden by the death of our 2010 graduate, Cameron Stambaugh, who was killed in Afghanistan in July 2012. This was the second death of a SG alumni in this most recent war on terror. Luke Runyan, another Spring Grove graduate, was lost several years prior.
Over the course of the past three years, students in Environmental 2, under the guidance of their teacher, Celeste Barnes, have been working steadily to create that Garden. The garden was to be a living memorial, a place of solace for those left behind who cherish their memory.
It was not an easy three years for the students. Progress was intermittent, as availability of funds and appropriate weather conditions significantly impacted the work.
One of their biggest challenges was informing the community of their intentions, keeping the project in the public eye and raising the necessary funds - especially when the students involved in the project changed with each successive school year.
From one year to the next, the commitment of each successive Environmental 2 class never waned!
In 2014, the students coordinated a district-wide 12-hour walk-a-thon called “The Walk of Heroes” to raise funds and awareness of this Memorial. This event was a collective opportunity for our community to express gratitude to our veterans and public servants, and was attended by well over 3,000 students and community members.
Students have provided most of the ‘sweat equity’ needed for digging, planting and building the garden. The main responsibility for maintaining the garden area will fall to each successive class of HS students in Environmental Science.
The vision for the Veterans’ Memorial Garden has always been to serve as a community-wide, intergenerational project - an opportunity for students, alumni, neighbors and local veterans to work together to honor those who have fallen.Dedicated on November 11, 2015, the Garden features the names of the first nine men known who died in service to their country and community who had been students at Spring Grove High. As students, their vision of the future was likely one similar to that of their peers - families, home, travels, interesting work and experiences. It is highly doubtful that any of them expected that one day their fellow classmates would find their names on a wall of heroes!
This Garden will be a reminder that our way of life is not to be taken for granted; that it is from the unselfish character of individuals like David Tome, Luke, and Cameron, that our communities and nation are built. The Garden is our thank-you to the families of these young men and will serve as a reminder that their sacrifice has not, and will not, be forgotten.