Memorial bench dedication a somber event
Published 12:25 am Sunday, February 23, 2014
Randy Brown, from left, Karen Brown and Amy Melton, the parents of Warren Central students who were killed in car accidents in 2012, sit on a bench Tuesday dedicated to their children. The bench was built by Michael Rangel as part of an Eagle Scout project. (Justin Sellers/ Vicksburg Post)
An emotional ceremony capped a nearly yearlong project meant to memorialize four Warren Central students who died in 2012.
Parents and family members of Aaron Brown, Cannon Lampkin, Acasia Lee and Kimberly Melton gathered Tuesday to dedicate a bench in their memories.
The four students died in the fall semester of the 2012-13 school year.
Tenth-grader Michael Rangel built the bench as a memorial to his classmates as his project to become an Eagle Scout.
At the presentation, Warren Central principal Jamie Creel spoke briefly.
“I hope I never have to do this again,” he said. “This is the hardest two-minute speech I’ve ever given.”
The bench wraps around an oak tree in the school’s parking lot under which students gather in the mornings and afternoons after being dropped off or while waiting to be picked up.
Creel previously said the tree has been a popular gathering spot for students for decades.
“Michael came to me saying he wanted to do something for his Eagle Scout,” Creel said. “We talked about it and came up with the idea for this.”
Creel said memorializing each student for years to come is important for the school to move forward.
“Every one of those students had impacts on me in special ways,” he said. “We will never forget the children we lost last year.”
Michael built the bench by hand and relied on outside funding for the plaques supplied by House of Awards.
“We got some money donated for the plaques,” he said.
He expects to get his Eagle Scout later this year.
“My first board will be in a couple of months, so I’m still working on it,” he said.
Kimberly Melton died from a reaction to cold medication on Sept. 15, 2012.
Acasia Lee died in October one week after she received her driver’s license. In November, Lampkin, 16, was killed in a one-vehicle crash on Duncan Road. Less than a month later, 17-year-old Aaron Brown died in a single-vehicle wreck on U.S. 80 between Bovina and the Hinds/Warren county line. None were wearing seat belts.
Creel said the three students who died in wrecks have prompted the school to take a long look at how to promote safety while driving.
“Even though we’ve gone through such tragedy, there’s been a lot of advocacy for seat belt usage and safe driving,” he said.
After thanking Rangel for his work, Creel emphasized the importance of the four to those that were gathered for the ceremony.
“Your child will never be forgotten,” he said.