Mariano Virata, A.C. Jones sophomore, was tragically killed in a car accident on March 5 of this year. His brother Michael is a student at St. Mary’s Academy. His mother, Lois Virata, is the assistant director for after-school activities.
The garden was planted and put together by the fifth- and sixth-grade students of St. Mary’s Academy. Currently, the garden has several flowers, a birdbath and a sidewalk. Nancy Cavallin, school science coordinator, said more plants will be added next year, including a possible herb garden.
Donations are being collected for a plaque honoring Mariano and a concrete bench to be added to the garden as well.
At Wednesday’s dedication, Principal Stan Simonson told the students how butterflies are an ancient symbol of Christianity because the caterpillar becomes born again as a butterfly.
Simonson also emphasized the preciousness of life.
“Things can happen in a moment that change everything,” Simonson said. “So we need to focus on what’s important.”
Noreen Brown, assistant principal, spoke next.
“How we loved [Mariano],” she said. “Many people will walk through your heart, but there are few like Mariano who leave footprints.”
Cavallin thanked the fifth- and sixth-graders for their hard work on the garden and pointed out the purple “angel” plants (angelonia) lining the walkway.
“Mariano is our first angel,” said Cavallin.
To close the ceremony, the students and teachers joined hands while Simonson led the crowd in the Lord’s Prayer.
The garden will continue to be cared for by fifth- and sixth-grade students in the coming years.