Authored by Amy Del Debbio
While visiting the Egyptian pyramids during WWII, Franklin D. Roosevelt remarked that “Man’s desire to be remembered is colossal” (Prasch 2013, 198). While the pyramids may be an appropriate memorial for a pharaoh, a memorial plaque may be more suitable for the average person. Prior to the courtyard being transformed into a memorial garden, the memorial plaque, which was donated by the Class of 2005 and contained in Wilby’s library, was the centerpiece of the cabinet that housed all “In Memory” artifacts.
When the memorial garden in the courtyard was completed, the memorial plaque was moved from inside the library to the memorial garden in the outside courtyard. Inside the library are still memorial pieces that cannot be outside, such as pictures, books, and trophies. When the Freshman come to the library for their orientation, part of the presentation given includes a walk-though the memorial garden. Mrs. Marci Hinton, Wilby’s librarian, believes it is important for Wilby students to understand the school’s “past, present, and future,” which is echoed within the Wilby Alma Mater song, “We will rise and pledge anew/The measure of all our heart’s devotion/To her we will still be true” (Floyd, n.d.). In other words, once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat. Freshman are not the only beneficiaries of the memorial garden; students in all grades are welcome to use the space to read or work quietly. During the annual alumni gathering, many former students congregate in this area to reminisce about faculty and staff who have since passed. By commemorating the deceased, Wilby is also upholding its core values and beliefs that Wilby students will leave with self-respect and respect for others, and the memorial garden is a good place for students to learn this value (Wilby High School, n.d.).
These artifacts, and the memorial garden, are maintained by the students of the Special Education Department. These under and misrepresented students and memorial artifacts align closely to the Vincentian community pillars of Love and Respect. Firstly, the pillar of Respect which is an, “awareness of and esteem for all individuals. A courteous regard for all people whose diversity is embraced and shared in learning, teaching and service to others” enables the special education students to learn life and vocational skills that, along with the artifacts and their hard work, create a beautiful area for faculty, staff, and students to enjoy (St. John’s University, n.d.). The pillar of Love which is “not a feeling but an action for the corporate good manifested through the time, talent and energy of its members” empowers the special education students with a sense of pride, purpose, fulfillment, and responsibility for taking care of the artifacts and memorial garden (St. John’s University, n.d.).
Evans, Floyd. “Wilby High School Alma Mater Song. Accessed March 16, 2018. http://www.wilbywildcatalumni.com/
Marci Hinton, personal interview, March 6, 2018.
Prasch, Allison. 2013.”Presidential Temples: How Memorials and Libraries Shape Public Memory by Benjamin Hufbauer.” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 16 (1): 198-202.
St. John’s University. n.d. “Our Mission.” Accessed March 16, 2018. https://www.stjohns.edu/about/our-mission.
“Wilby Core Values and Beliefs.” Wilby High School. Accessed March 16, 2018. http://www.waterbury.k12.ct.us/5/Content2/1172.