Rotary Club Of Los Alamos Commemorates 10th Anniversary Of LAHS Memorial Garden

 Scene from the dedication ceremony for the LAHS Memorial Garden December 20, 2012. Courtesy photo

A wreath left in honor of those students remembered at the LAHS Memorial Garden which was dedicated 10 years ago. Photo by Bob Hull

Vice President
Rotary Club of Los Alamos

December 20th marks the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the Memorial Garden at Los Alamos High School (LAHS). The project, which broke ground in August 2012, was created through a collaboration between the Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) and the Rotary Club of Los Alamos to honor the lives of those students who have died during their enrollment at the high school.  Fundraising and planning began in 2009.

Originally, memorial trees had been planted over the years on the high school campus to pay tribute to students lost, but the trees were removed during the replacement of older administrative buildings and classroom wings beginning in 2010, inspiring the Rotary Club to propose a new memorial.   

Rotarian Skip King, who had been thinking about a Rotary community project well before his year as Club President, 2010-2011, spearheaded the planning and implementation of the Memorial Garden with assistance from former school board member Joanie Ahlers who was the LAPS project manager at the time of the LAHS campus remodel.  

The new high school buildings opened in January of 2012.  Construction for the Memorial Garden, sited between the school library and auxiliary gym, began just seven months later.  Oasis Landscaping and Los Alamos Landscaping and More were instrumental in the design and construction of the Memorial.  

The centerpiece of the Memorial Garden is an upright flagstone slab upon which students’ names are engraved on brass plaques. The flagstone is encircled by a sidewalk and a low stone wall for sitting and contemplation.  The surrounding garden area of daffodils, tulips, and shrubbery is particularly comforting with bursts of greenery and bright colors during spring and summer months.  

LAPS Superintendent Gene Schmidt and LAHS Principal Sandy Warnock were among the speakers at the dedication in 2012, the LAHS Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps presented the colors, and Student Council Vice President Cassidy Reeves cut the ribbon.

The only criterion for inclusion on the Memorial Garden flagstone is that the student was enrolled at the high school at the time of his or her passing, and if the student was a graduating senior, the death occurred before the beginning of the following school year.

The Memorial Garden is maintained by members of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos.

To inquire about a Memorial plaque, please contact Skip King, Rotary Club of Los Alamos, 505-662-8832.  Oasis Landscape installs the plaques after orders are filled by Artistic Bronze, Inc. in Miami Gardens, Florida.  

As Rotarian Skip King reflects, “Every time I pass the Memorial Garden it gives me a great sense of pride that the Rotary Club of Los Alamos created such a wonderful memorial.”

In the words of a parent whose child’s name appears on a Memorial Garden plaque, “Our daughter loved being a Hilltopper.  The legacy of the Garden will allow us to sit and remember her.  It’s a wonderful respite, a place of quiet contemplation as we mourn our loss and remember her life.”