Editorial: It’s Time for a Student Memorial Garden on Campus


Courtesy photo

The memorial garden at Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount memorializes passed students with simple, understated stone markers.

Within the past two years, we have had two student deaths on campus, Will Patterson last semester in the Fall of 2022 and Cole Lipinski in the Fall of 2021.

While there were celebrations of life on campus, there are no other places on campus for students, faculty, staff, and families to remember these students, others who have passed, or others we may lose in the future.

There is a Holocaust memorial garden on campus, and there are other memorials on campus that honor previous faculty who passed while teaching here.

But what about the students?

At Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount–about 10 miles up the road–students and faculty fund-raised for and erected a memorial garden to honor fallen students.

There are memorial stones placed on the campus to honor those students who passed while they attended school there. Examples are in the photo above.

Thankfully, the high school has not needed to contact the company that creates its markers since 2020.

We believe that there should be a memorial garden placed on campus here to remember the students who have passed while attending our institution.

“I believe adding a memorial on campus for students who have passed away is a fantastic idea,” said Matthew Cureton, Head Men’s Soccer Coach. “This would give current students a place to grieve, celebrate their life of, and visit their friends/peers who have passed away. I know the men’s soccer team would find a way to use it and incorporate it into our team and culture.”

This project could begin with our two most recently passed students.

“It would be a good idea to shed light on those of good character and morals who have unfortunately ended their journey too soon,” said Andrew Porter, senior, and friend of Cole Lipinski. “This will honor Cole by showing that those who live selflessly won’t be forgotten.”

To us, it would be great to remember these passed students to honor the positive impact they had on others at the college.

“It’s important to remember them because Will had a huge impact on a bunch of people’s lives,” said Kennedy Hernandez, freshman, and friend of Will Patterson. “It would be nice to have the memorial garden because we know they are still part of this family, a part of this institution, and the parents, friends, and family will be happy to see how special they are.”

There are local companies that sell memorial stones that could be used in the garden, with some of the closest ones being in Rocky Mount, Roanoke, and Martinsville, Va.

In Martinsville, Norris Memorial Services offers one flat single marker for $625 plus tax and costs $225 for installation.

There are also companies online that produce and sell markers for as little as $199 that offer online designers and simple, efficient ways to create and buy a marker.

To raise money for the gravestones, Justin Muse, Director of Student Activities, stated a way we could get started would be by by contacting the college’s Institutional Advancement team for donations.

“I do think it is a good job to have the student organizations raise money, too, or just to work together with the IA team to collaborate together on such a project,” Muse said. “I do believe a memorial garden would be a great way to memorialize the students and classmates that we’ve lost.”

We believe an excellent area for the garden would be in the arboretum–not out in the center of the grass, but in an area that would still allow such projects as the Renaissance Fairs and productions the Theatre Department has produced as of late.

Moreover, the idea is not to tax the building and grounds crews with more work.

Rather, different clubs and organizations could also take turns maintaining and fundraising for the garden as an opportunity for a community service project.

Having the memorial garden, to us, allows everyone on campus to have a place to remember our passed students and remember that they are always with us.