By Matt Mackinder
Special To The Leader
Madisyn Baldwin attended Clarkston Community Schools through the 2020-21 year, transferring to Oxford High School for her senior year.
Tragically, she was one of four victims in the November 30 school shooting.
Aidan Hepler wants to make sure his friend is never forgotten.
“Madisyn was a good friend of mine,” said Hepler, a senior at Clarkston High School. “I talked with her nearly every day at school until the Coronavirus pandemic forced us into quarantine. I loved to talk to her about her artwork. She seemed very passionate about it as well as her photography. She was an amazing person, and to hear of her passing was devastating to many of us students at Clarkston High School.”
In the aftermath of the shooting, Hepler took the initiative to create a project that would memorialize Baldwin for years to come. He came up with the idea for a mural that will be painted at Clarkston High School.
“The idea for the mural started when I saw several petitions and other forms of support solely directed towards Tate Myre,” said Hepler. “I felt Madisyn and the other two students (Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling) weren’t receiving as much media attention, and I wanted to do something for our friend Madisyn. She was an amazing artist, and I figured a mural of her would be appropriate to commemorate her. I originally planned to have this mural painted in downtown Clarkston, and many people from CHS signed and shared my petition. Since then, it’s reached nearly 30,000 supporters.”
Several days after Hepler created the petition, he spoke with Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin at Baldwin’s visitation on December 5.
“She loved the idea and helped me come into contact with the mayor of Clarkston (Eric Haven),” Hepler said. “After exchanging emails, I was convinced that having the mural in the Clarkston High School would be more effective in remembrance of the events that occurred on November 30. I’ve come into contact with professional muralist Zach Curtis, and he volunteered his time and efforts to help paint this mural. With assistance from CHS artists (and fellow seniors) Melody Lebert and Leah Pawlowski, Zach will be painting the mural in the CHS library. Mr. Baldwin and I plan to discuss possible ideas for the mural in the near future.”
Several current CHS seniors said they are heartbroken for Baldwin and vowed that her memory will live on forever.
“She was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, and she cared for everyone,” said Josh Robbins.
“She had the most contagious smile, the kindest heart, and she inspired everyone around her,” added Morgan Knotts. “No one will ever forget how amazing of a friend, daughter, sister, or family member she was.”
“Madisyn was a great friend,” remembered Sontino Gojcaj. “I was misbehaving in class one day, and the teacher moved me to the seat next to her. I’m so glad I met her and got to know her. She was a blessed person to know in life.”
“Madisyn was the kindest friend I’ve ever had,” said Luca Marino. “Madisyn helped me adjust to life in high school and shortly after, we became good friends. She will forever be missed.”
Hepler noted that it’s important to remember just what kind of a person Baldwin was.
“I feel that it’s important for Clarkston to remember Madisyn as a reminder of what an amazing person she was and to never take the ones you love for granted,” said Hepler. “Madisyn provided a lot for our community before and after she transferred to Oxford earlier this year. We believe that we need to give back to Madisyn in remembrance of her and a mural is the least we can do for our friend.
“I hope that this mural may be viewed by the tens of thousands of students who attend or will attend Clarkston High School. Her mural will remain in this school for as long as it stands. Everyone in Clarkston will come to know Madisyn, and she will not be forgotten.”
By Matt Mackinder