Cherry trees planted in honor of slain students

Ryan Patterson with the monument with a quote about Cherry Blossoms.


On Saturday June 4, four Cherry Blossom trees were planted outside of Oxford High School to honor Hana St. Juliana, Justin Shilling, Tate Mrye, and Madisyn Baldwin, the four students who were murdered in the Nov. 30 mass shooting.

OHS students brainstormed the idea of planting trees over the last several months. Fourth-year Oxford Schools Early College (OSEC) Senior Ryan Patterson chose to turn this idea into his OSEC Capstone project.

According to a release from the school district, Ryan’s detailed proposal took shape earlier this spring with the help from Matt Comparoni of Cutrite Lawncare and Landscaping. Matt volunteered his time, staff, and equipment to plant four Cherry Blossom trees, including the landscaping. Matt was able to receive the trees as a donation from David Soulliere of Landscape Source. Don Nelson from Jan Steel Company also donated an impressive monument which includes a quote Ryan Patterson found and others adored.

The Cherry Blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It’s a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short,” the monument reads.

Oxford High School staff and students also spent time on June 4 cleaning up the courtyards in preparation for future plans to honor Hana, Justin, Tate and Madisyn in those spaces.

We are humbled, honored, and thankful to have so many of our community members and Oxford neighbors reaching out to offer their help and support,” OHS Principal Steve Wolf said.

Although the work done this weekend was not a part of the permanent memorial the Board of Education and community will work on, it’s an important step in our healing for our school community, the release stated.

— Don Rush

Students and staff gathered on a recent Saturday to cleanup an area outside Oxford High School and spread mulch around the newly planted trees. Photos courtesy of Oxford Community Schools.

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