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Garden blooms in memory of students

Soumitro Sen

A new garden is blooming at Pleasant Valley School.

But it’s not another arbor of flowers and sun-dappled greenery. It’s got memories, too.

The fourth- and fifth-graders of Pleasant Valley School are building a memorial garden to remember Ryan and Brett Newman – two brothers killed in a car crash last spring – and other former pupils of their school who have died.

Besides the Newman brothers, the memorial garden commemorates Savannah Feinberg, Kyle Montre and Cheyenne Rousser.

“We wanted it to look nice so that when people come to see the garden, it wouldn’t be just a garden with plants,” said 11-year-old Ross Frank, a student at Pleasant Valley. “It would look really good because it’s a memorial.”

At present, the garden is a fenced-off area adjacent to the school’s office building. It includes a greenhouse, a pond with a tiny cascading waterfall in a corner, a vegetable garden and several flower beds that have begun to blossom.

The idea of a memorial garden occurred to students of Kim Bell, the fourth- and fifth- grade teacher at Pleasant Valley, who were inspired by the book “Bridge to Terabithia,” by Katherine Paterson. In the book, the protagonist builds a bridge in the memory of his drowned friend.

A memorial garden had been built at Pleasant Valley School in 1997 as an Eagle Scout’s project to remember a student named Kyle Elgin Montre. The present garden is an improvement and expansion of the existing plot.

“I knew Brett, especially,” Bell said. “He was a great, athletic, fun-loving kid. (Their death) makes us aware of how short life can be.”

Bell hopes the garden will be a quiet, green refuge for children as they overcome personal problems. Once finished, the garden also is supposed help science students study plant life and pond life, Bell said.

“All the vegetables we grow here, we’re going to sell them at the farmer’s market so we have revenue for the garden and it can support itself,” Bell said. “The students also can learn some business skills in the process.”

Bell has submitted a grant to the California Department of Education for $2,500, she said. Bell hopes the money will help complete the project, as well as pay people who’ve donated their resources to the garden, she said.

“It’s a great place for us to remember former students who’ve lost their lives and a great place for future students to spend time,” said Principal Clint Johnson.


To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@theunion.com or call 477-4229.

Scholarship created in memory of Ryan, Brett Newman

Relatives of Ryan and Brett Newman are setting up a scholarship in memory of the Penn Valley boys killed in a car crash last spring.

On June 2, the Newman family is arranging a fishing derby fundraiser in the Little Beaver Campground at the Little Grass Valley Reservoir in La Porte. The proceeds from the derby will go toward the scholarship.

“There will be two scholarships given to two graduating seniors at Nevada Union High School this year,” said the boys’ mother, Lisa Newman. “We are having our paperwork completed and approved by the National Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C.”

For more information about the event, call Glenn or Lisa Newman at 432-2908.

– Soumitro Sen

WHAT: A fishing derby to raise money for the Ryan and Brett Newman Memorial Scholarship for graduating seniors at Nevada Union High School.

WHO: The event is being organized by Glenn and Lisa Newman, parents of the brothers who died in a car accident last year.

WHEN: Saturday, June 2. Registration is from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. One may pre-register on Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Fishing stops at 1 p.m., after which there’ll be a barbecue potluck and awards.

WHERE: Little Beaver Campground at Little Grass Valley Reservoir in La Porte.

INFORMATION: Glenn or Lisa Newman at 432-2908

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