LNLC completing student memorial

Wesley Abernathy, left, and David Barrett work on the Memorial Garden at the Linda Nolen Learning Center on April 10. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

About 15 volunteers and local students spent the day on April 10 working to complete a memorial garden for Linda Nolen Learning Center students who have passed away.

LNLC parents and Shelby County students joined employees with the Inverness Home Depot store and Lawn Master as they landscaped the garden, constructed plant boxes and planted trees and flowers around the garden’s heart-shaped sidewalk and wooden pergola.

In addition to the wheelchair-accessible pergola and a water fountain flanked by bricks named in honor of the 23 LNLC students who have passed away since the school’s inception more than 20 years ago, the garden will also feature several areas designed to appeal to the LNLC students’ senses.

LNLC serves students from across Shelby County who have significant special needs. The garden will be split into several sections based on senses, such as a touch zone, a taste zone featuring a vegetable garden and a smell zone containing fragrant flowers.

Crews have been working on the garden since summer 2011, and likely will have it completed by the end of April, said LNLC parent Linda Moran.

After the garden is completed, the school will hold a dedication ceremony to honor the 23 students listed in the memorial.

For LNLC parent Becky Smart, whose son, Tyler, passed away recently, the memorial will serve as a gathering place for her and her family.

“We wanted to do a cremation, so this will give our family a place to come and remember him,” Becky Smart said. “They can come and actually be a part of this garden. It’s more than just a cemetery.”

Tyler’s brother, Jessie, is planning to build a ladder next to the garden’s pergola as part of a Boy Scout project, Becky Smart said.

“I think it will be therapeutic for him. That will make him a part of it,” she said. “He has been kind of lost since he lost his big brother.”

Home Depot employee Mark McPherson, who was working alongside several other Home Depot and Lawn Master volunteers, said his company adopted the memory garden as part of its “give back” mantra.

“For our store, this is probably the biggest project we’ve done,” McPherson said.

“We couldn’t ask for anyone better than Home Depot. They have been so great,” Moran said.