Today: Jun 24, 2024

Memorial garden for Sandy Hook victims designs wanted

The future location for the Sandy Hook memorial garden

Josh Falcone – General Assignment Reporter


As the fall semester begins the Southern Connecticut State University Sandy Hook Forum, along with the university’s faculty and staff, are looking to move forward with a proposed memorial garden that will honor the victims, their families, and the community devastated by last December’s tragedy in Newtown.

Dr. Rosalyn Amenta said that the placement of the memorial garden has been narrowed down to four positions within the area of Engleman Hall facing a pond as well as overlooking the New Haven cityscape, and mentioned that there will be a garden design contest that will be open to all Southern students this fall.

Amenta added that a letter from Assistant Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Troiano detailing the design contest along with the contest details will be sent out to all Southern staff and faculty first thing.

“The faculty and staff will receive the announcement first,” Amenta said, “so they can encourage students to participate.”

The group is hoping that the faculty in arts and environmental studies might incorporate the garden design contest somehow into their fall semester curriculum.

Amenta and the Sandy Hook Forum along with Associate Vice President for Capital Budgeting & Facilities Operations Robert G. Sheeley and Director of Facilities Planning and Architectural Services Paul Loescher looked into and decided on the final four locations for the memorial garden in May, she said.

The first possible site is adjacent to Jennings Hall nestled between two trees. The second site is located closer to the walkway. The third location for the memorial garden would situate it in the grassy area near the actual Engleman Hall building. The fourth and final proposed memorial garden spot is between the walkway and the orchard behind Engleman and Jennings Halls.

The future location for the Sandy Hook memorial garden
The future location for the Sandy Hook memorial garden

As for what the garden would include, the current plan is for the garden to be surrounded by numerous benches as well as a plaque honoring the four victims who had ties to Southern. These include principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung who earned two degrees from the school, including a master’s degree in special education in 1997, and a sixth-year certificate in educational leadership in 1998, as well as Sandy Hook Elementary School psychologist Mary Sherlach and teacher Anna Marie Murphy who both took graduate level courses in the late eighties and early nineties here at the university. Finally, teacher Victoria Soto who was currently enrolled at Southern working towards a master’s degree in special education will be among the individuals included on the plaque.

The memorial garden would also consist of plants and flowers grown here on campus by volunteers as well as plants and hopefully flowers grown by Sandy Hook students at their school then planted in the SCSU memorial garden. The group was informed in its last meeting this past April that Benedicts Home & Garden in Monroe has agreed to donate to the project by offering supplies. This would include peat moss, potting soil, seeds, and bulbs.

In addition to the donated gardening supplies, Professor Suzanne Huminski told the group that the Office of Sustainability has offered to supply a rain barrel to collect rain to water the garden, when it is completed and wherever it is located.

Amenta said that the final design and site will be chosen by President Mary Papazian and a committee encompassing the university faculty and staff.

The Sandy Hook Forum members are eager to see that the memorial garden project continues to progress. Southern student and group member Julie Jones said she is very thrilled to be a part of the project plan.

“I’m excited and honored to work with such a great committee,” she said.

Amenta said that when she saw photos of the four proposed sites that it added to her excitement for the design project.

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