Josh Falcone – General Assignment Reporter –
Last Wednesday, the final meeting of Southern’s Sandy Hook Forum for this semester was held in Engleman Hall. The meeting, which was open to all members of the Southern community, focused on the proposed campus memorial garden that will honor the victims of the violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December.
During the last meeting, the idea for a memorial garden was in the early stages and still needed to be presented to Robert Sheeley of Facilities Operations, as well as the rest of the university’s administrators. The last meeting also produced a location for the garden that would place it next to the school’s community garden behind the school of education. In the beginning of the latest meeting, Dr. Rosalyn Amenta excitedly presented an email she received from Sheeley where the administrator said he along with the other administrators thought the garden sounded like an amazing idea to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Amenta said that Sheeley has been swamped with work but that they were setting up a meeting to discuss the garden, something Amenta said excited her.
“I’m excited about this finally materializing,” she said. “It is just such a wonderful thing.”
In the email that Amenta shared with the group, Sheeley mentioned an alternative site for the garden, in between the north side of Pelz Gymnasium and the Fitch Street parking garage.
This new spot for the garden was positively received by those in attendance at the meeting. Professor Suzanne Huminski from the science education and environmental studies department said the Pelz Gymnasium location would have more foot traffic.
“It would be seen by more people over there,” Huminski said. “It is sunny and I think it has enough space so people could gather there.”
Huminski said she thinks the school should also look into other possible locations for the garden as well, such as behind Engleman Hall which is an open spot that receives a lot of sun. Amenta said she would like to have the garden as close to the School of Education building as possible. The administrators will convene and make a final decision on the memorial garden and then will release an official announcement on the garden, Amenta said.
As for what the garden would include, the current plan is for the garden to be surrounded by numerous benches engraved with the names of the educators with Southern ties that lost their lives that December morning, as well as a plaque with all the names of the victims placed in the garden. The garden would consist of plants and flowers grown here on campus by volunteers along with plants and flowers grown by Sandy Hook students at their school then brought to and planted in the garden. Freshmen class president Molly Shea said that Benedicts Home & Garden in Monroe has agreed to donate to the project by offering supplies.
“They will supply us with compost, potting soil, seeds, and bulbs,” Shea said.
The student body government wants to donate the plaque that will include the victim’s names, Shea said.
Huminski said that the Office of Sustainability has offered to supply a rain barrel to collect rain to water the garden, wherever it is located.
Amenta said the hope is the garden would be complete by mid-May, so the garden is finished in time to blossom this spring.
“If we can,” she said, “we would like to have it done by the second week of May.”