News: Students Partake in Memorial Project to Commemorate M-A Parents

Photo Credit: Emily Grose

M-A students, staff, and community members made hundreds of gardenia flowers out of clay for the Singh family memorial.

On December 3 and 4, the school came together and made hundreds of clay gardenias for a memorial that will commemorate Balbir and Kamal Singh, two M-A parents who were victims of a tragic drunk driving accident in October.

The project aimed for the M-A community to make at least 200 clay gardenias, which were the favorite flower of the Singh family’s mother. These will eventually become a memorial, made of vines of flowers, that will be hung on the fence at the site of the accident.

Deborah Gutof, an art teacher at M-A, came up with the idea for the project. She shared her idea with the Singh students who attend M-A, and said they were “very excited for it to happen.”

The goal of the Gardenia Project was to support and honor the Singh family. Ms. Gutof added that it extended beyond this purpose, as “the Singh family is not alone in suffering tragedies [involving] their families. [The project] was about bringing people together, to be part of something that will give [everyone] some sort of courage and strength.”

Ms. Gutof also said that the memorial calls  forth concern about public safety awareness. At the site of the accident, “there are no lights, there are no sidewalks, and those aren’t the only places in the community where they are lacking safe places to run, to ride bikes, and to be…when people go by that fence and see the flowers hanging, they’re going to see that people lost their lives there.” This will hopefully serve as an initiative for public safety awareness and change in the community.

The Gardenia Project superseded its goal for the number of flowers created. According to Ms. Gutof, there will be about 400 flowers total at the end of the project, which will probably become 20 vines of about 15 to 20 flowers.

Ms. Gutof noted that she “only planted the seed” for the project, and it was “the students [who] made it happen.”

The next step of the project will be to pick colors and patterns for the flowers, then string them together.  There will eventually be a ceremony to present the memorial, which will be accompanied by a student-made plaque.

Ms. Gutof added that “there are so many vines that people can [eventually] take them home; there can be some at school and some in the houses of the [family members].”

Ms. Gutof expressed that the gardenia vines may become a lasting memorial in the community.

“[The hope is that] we can permanently install some of these vines on the fences where the parents were struck, as a constant remembrance of them as the beautiful people that they were.”