Students will cultivate effort to restore high school's Memorial Grove

Sarah Sole
ThisWeek group
New Albany High School seniors Max Little (left), president of the school's National Honor Society chapter, and Tawfiq Mohammed, treasurer of the chapter, stand in front of the site for the Memorial Grove restoration project for which students will lead the fundraising effort. The Memorial Grove was built as a senior-seminar project in the mid-1990s, said NHS faculty adviser Jenny Core. It was intended as a place for students and staff members to reflect and remember community members who have died, Core said.

A contemplative space for New Albany High School students to memorialize people from the community is about to be refreshed.

Principal Ken Kraemer said the high school’s chapter of the National Honor Society in February will begin a campaign to raise $100,000 to update the Memorial Grove, adjacent to the campus green on the west side of the high school building.

“We knew this would be a multiyear project,” he said.  

The Memorial Grove was built as a senior-seminar project in the mid-1990s, said National Honor Society faculty adviser Jenny Core. Senior seminar is a New Albany High School graduation requirement in which students research an idea and create a product or complete a project; they must document 80 hours of work.

It was intended as a place for students and staff members to reflect and remember community members who have died, Core said. The grove included benches, trees, several memorial plaques and bricks bearing names of those who contributed money toward the project, she said.

Rob Donaldson, an architect who is a New Albany High School graduate and was an Ohio State University student at the time the Memorial Grove was established, is helping with the redesign, Core said.

Over the Past 20 years, the Memorial Grove has become overgrown, Kraemer said.

Soil erosion also has led to poor drainage, and the grading of the ground allowed water to flow toward the building, he said. At one point, water came through a door to the building and flooded into a hallway, he said.

The drainage at the grove has been fixed, but the rest of the project timeline depends on how quickly funding can be secured, Kraemer said.

Core said the redesigned grove would feature a short wall that says "Memorial Grove," and the memorial plaques primarily would be in that area. Low benches would provide an area for people to pause and reflect, she said.

At the back of the grove, a tiered, rounded outdoor seating area that could accommodate an class of 25 students will be built, Core said. The area also will feature native trees and plants, she said.

Although the grove will function primarily as a memorial, “we also wanted to allow classes to use it, as well,” Core said.

Max Little, a senior and president of the National Honor Society chapter, said the Memorial Grove project “hits a lot closer to home” because his senior class has lost two students. Abby Coning died in April 2019 from complications from epilepsy, and Michael Lucey died after an Aug. 2 car accident in Genoa Township.

“It’s definitely been tough on our grade,” he said.

Little said the grove will provide a space to help students gain closure for the losses.  

Tawfiq Mohammed, a senior and treasurer of the National Honor Society chapter, said he is assembling a committee of students to start brainstorming fundraising ideas. He said the campaign would include a 5K race.

Core said in February, the district website, napls.us, would have a page to accept donations for the project.

Ultimately, the high school will be fortunate to have a tranquil, calming space to use daily, Kraemer said.

“It’s a very, very unique space that many high schools don’t have on their campus,” he said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

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