During an emotional moment at last night’s Clarke County School Board meeting, Supervisor Barbara Byrd (Russell) called on School Board members to consider creating a memorial site somewhere on the grounds of Clarke County’s new high school where community members can honor deceased loved ones, particularly young people.
With the new facility on track for a scheduled March, 2012 completion, Byrd’s suggestion for adding a memorial site, possibly a garden, was inspired by one of her constituents who is grieving over the loss of an only son.
“Mrs. Betty Robinson Nelson lost her only son several years ago,” Byrd told the School Board. “In his memory, Mrs. Nelson would like to place a brick in his honor on the grounds of the new high school.”
Byrd said that although she realized that the plans for the high school site were already finished, Mrs. Nelson’s brick could be the start of a memorial garden for the remembrance of individuals by friends and families supporting the school system.
“Mrs. Nelson’s son, Keith Eric Douglas, was the father of a daughter who was a champion basketball and soccer player who graduated from CCHS in 2006,” Byrd said. “Mrs. Nelson told me ‘Keith was a strong supporter of the construction of a first class high school for the youth of Clarke County. The placement of just one small stone or brick would be a modest, but meaningful, tribute to his efforts and his contribution. This brick would be a tangible symbol of his support and contribution to this community resource that is now finally close to completion. It would also provide some degree of closure for a mother who is still grieving over the loss of an only son.'”
Byrd asked if a location could be found somewhere on the site where citizens could memorialize loved ones, possibly through placement of an inscribed brick or stone, saying that she felt that such a tribute area would be filled very quickly.
“I think that it’s a wonderful idea,” replied School Board Chairman Barbara Lee (Millwood).
Byrd’s suggestion appeared to be enthusiastically received by other School Board members as well, but especially by Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy. Murphy, who lost a teenaged son in an automobile accident, was visibly moved by the memorial suggestion.
“Mrs. Byrd, thank you,“ said Murphy. “I do know from firsthand experience just how important it is never to forget. And also as a parent, who has lost a child, to know that others have never forgotten.”
Murphy said that he has had many conversations with Clarke County families who have lost a child.
“I even have a list of those students in the Clarke County Public School students who have died before their time,” Murphy said holding back tears. “I would be honored if the Board would consider letting staff investigate how we might not only honor this mother’s request, but those other mothers and fathers requests as well.”
“It would be a beautiful addition to our school,” said Barbara Lee. ”We will pursue it.”