Students, Staff Plant Garden in Memory of Anya
To remember former student Anya Lizardo, 6, who died last week in a car accident, students and staff planted a garden, which includes themes the first grader loved.
Outside Brophy Elementary School is a newly-planted, rainbow-colored garden, complete with ornamental ladybugs and butterflies.
It is a garden that Anya Lizardo would have wanted to visit daily as a second grade student.
Sadly, the 6-year-old girl tragically died in a car accident, a week before school broke for the summer.
Remembering Anya, students and staff created the garden filled with her personality and the things she loved.
Monday morning art teacher Rachel Shuman, on her way to work stopped at the Lowe's on Route 30 in Framingham.
I wanted to know if they would be willing to donate a few flowers, Shuman said.
Instead, Lowe's Assistant Manager John Ellis and human resources manager Sandra Wendel, told Shuman to move her car to the front of the store.
"They filled my car with flowers, soil and decorative ornaments for a garden," she said.
Anya's first grade class collected rocks on Monday. A fourth grade class painted the rocks in rainbow colors. Anya loved rainbows.
"Anya was a rainbow filled with hearts, butterflies and unicorns," said her first grade teacher Amy Cheever, with tears in her eyes yesterday.
Cheever, Anya's kindegarten teacher Sarah Smith and Brophy Elementary principal Frank Rothwell visited with Anya's mom at her home on Tuesday. It was the mother's first day home from the hospital. Anya's little sister Mia, who was a kindergarten student at Brophy and was also in the car with her mom and sister when it crashed on the Mass Pike, is home and doing better.
"I couldn't wrap my head around it," Cheever said of the accident and the death of one of her students.
Wearing a pin with a photo of Anya on it, given to her by Anya's mom Tuesday, Cheever said the garden was a way for everyone, staff and students, to remember the child, who was as colorful and captivating as a rainbow.
Rothwell said Anya's bus was the last bus to pick up at the elementary school. "Anya always came over to tell a story or to talk about butterflies or unicorns. She was just a happy kid, all the time," he said.
Tuesday morning, a different fourth grade class at Brophy assisted Anya's small first grade class in planting the garden, said Shuman.
Tuesday afternoon, each of the school's first grade students had the opportunity to place one of the rainbow colored rocks around the garden, said Shuman.
While Anya's first grade class was small, the first grade class as a whole is the smallest of the six grades in the school, at about 65 students.
Anya was to have gone on a field trip to the Discovery Museum in Acton last Friday. Her class went without her. None of the students knew of her passing, at that time.
Saturday, June 18, the elementary school was open in the morning for parents, students and staff to meet with counselors, social workers, psychologists, etc. A few came to the school.
By Monday, most of the Anya's class had been told of her passing, but a few first graders didn't learn about her death until Monday at school. Rothwell said counselors , etc have been available all week, leading up to yesterday's final day of school, to talk with or help anyone.
Anya was a beautiful, happy child, said Cheever.
"She taught kids how to draw a unique flower. ... She always insisted the rainbow colors had to be in order. ... She loved butterflies. ... She would create these unique hearts. ... She will be missed," said Cheever, again tearing up.
The garden project allowed the students to remember her.
Some kids talked about her, other students talked about the garden, said Cheever. "It was different for every kid," she added.
This year's graduating class at Brophy held a moment of silence for Anya, at its 5th grade completion ceremony, said Rothwell.
"The fifth graders worked with the first graders during the year," he explained.
Rothwell, sitting in his office yesterday with Shuman and Cheever, flipped through a pile of drawings some students did about Anya. He said other students wrote poems.
Cheever said her class thought it was "cool" that Miss Shuman decided to create the garden and started to call her "Miss Cool-man."
"I was amazed how the fourth and first grade students worked together to complete the garden. The older students were teaching the younger ones about roots ...," she said.
The response to the garden was "overwhelming from staff, teachers, parents and students," said Shuman.
The garden reflects Anya. It has her love of ladybugs, butterflies and rainbows, concluded Cheever.