Memorial Garden Dedicated to Former Starkey Student
Former teachers, classmates, family and community members came out to help dedicate a memorial garden and bench for a former Starkey Elementary student on Sept. 2.
Arianna Lopez was remembered by former teachers during the dedication ceremony at the corner of the playground and a memorial bench under the shade of a large tree was unveiled. The ceremony was held a little over a year after Arianna was tragically killed after a drunk driver crashed into her bedroom in August 2020.
Teachers who shared remembrances of Arianna were Tami Bocanegra, Dylan Warren and Heather Grace. Little sister Peyton Lopez sang a song and Logan Arispe read a poem. Teacher Hailey Mohnke thanked several local businesses and organizations who contributed to turning the garden into a reality.
Arianna’s bench has her name and portrait laser-cut into it and is the perfect shade of sparkly, purple-pink that she would have loved, Mrs. Mohnke said.
The idea to make a garden in Arianna’s memory started last school year, when Mrs. Mohnke and the Starkey Character Council began fundraising efforts for a nice bench to be placed on the playground. After word of the project spread, the community stepped in with financial and in-kind donations to bring a garden with butterfly-attracting plants and irrigation system, rock border and little library to life.
Mrs. Mohnke said Arianna’s love for reading inspired her to want to become a teacher, so adding a little library in her memory was the perfect way to honor her.
Friends and family were invited to write special memories of words on the stones that line the garden.