Carver Honors Special Students

Article and video by Shannon Schussler

The Special Education Department and students remembered Keenan Freeman and Jamari Smith with a Memorial Garden at Carver Middle School.  Sadly, both students were lost to this life due to illness.  The garden was planted just outside Carver’s eight grade hall.  The dedication ceremony was held May 24, 2018 and attended by teachers, students, family, and a member of the Special Education Department from Walton County’s Board of Education.

Photo by Shannon Schussler

At the ceremony, Paraprofessional Alicia Dobbs described Jamari Smith as a “giving” young man and a “loyal friend.”

Jamari Smith photo courtesy of WASP Adapted Sports

Additionally, Ms. Dobbs shared that he loved the Georgia Bulldogs, dancing, his friends, and Jesus.  She expressed that both students were not just members of the classroom, but had become part of her heart.  Special Education Instructor BillieJo Diehl spoke about what an honor and a blessing it was to teach Keenan Freeman.

Keenan Freeman photo by Alicia Dobbs

Keenan was famous for his infectious smile.  Ms. Diehl shared that Keenan enjoyed music by Michael Jackson and would try to hit the high notes just like him.  A statue of a frog reading a book was placed in the garden because Keenan loved listening to “Froggy Books.”

Photo by Shannon Schussler

Ms. Diehl and others expressed the feeling of the Hand of the Divine at the event.  Ms. Diehl recounted getting in her car that morning and Billie Jean sung by Michael Jackson was playing on the radio.  Which means, BillieJo heard Billie Jean that morning.  Many were delighted to see three or more little frogs had already made the garden their home.

Photo by Shannon Schussler
Students and Staff placed hand-painted stones in the Memorial Garden Photo by Shannon Schussler

The organizers thanked Kim Wages for picking up flowers, the garden’s bench, the garden dedication plaque, and bringing plants.

The Memorial plaque was created by Accolades Awards.  The plaque and bench were funded by Carver Cafe’ coffee sales.  Caver Cafe’ is a project run by students with special needs in Ms. Diehl’s class. Around the plaque and birdbath was a favorite place for students to put their painted rocks.  The birdbath and stepping stones were donated by Carver Media Assistant, Christine Breedlove.

Kenneth Little moved six tons of river rock to the garden using his own equipment.  Loganville Flowers donated flowers.  Many thanks were given to Special Education Instructor John Cooksey who designed the garden and worked tirelessly in the wind, rain, and during pre-planning to have the garden completed before the end of the school year.

Special Ed Teachers BillieJo Diehl and John Cooksey photo by Shannon Schussler

Complete video of the Garden’s Dedication

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