News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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June 3, 2010

Maggie's Garden: Students honor former classmate

Maggie Vicory died from injuries in Vermillion County automobile crash last year

TERRE HAUTE — Packets of seeds to plant in honor of Margaret Elaine Vicory went home with all students and adults at Ouabache Elementary School on Thursday.

The message “The seed is hope, the flower is joy” was shared with everyone who went through the small school courtyard now dedicated as Maggie’s Garden, in honor of the sunny 5-year-old kindergartner who died last school year in an automobile accident.

“This is really nice. I think she’d like this. She liked to be outdoors,” said her mother Linda Vicory as she and her family visited the living memory area that will feature plants, colorful pinwheels and windsocks, rocking chairs and personalized signs denoting Maggie’s Garden.

“It’s a unique space that has never been utilized in the past,” school counselor Michelle Kirby explained Thursday morning while showing the area just off the media center to Maggie’s family. Mother Linda, father Michael, brother Michael Jr., grandmother Susan Vicory and aunt Dede Rehmel all shared tears and smiles as they watched Maggie’s kindergarten teacher explain the meaning of the garden to her current kindergarten class.

Only 10 children, now first-graders, remain at the school from Maggie’s kindergarten class. But they all recalled her friendship during the brief time they shared in school with her.

“She was a sweetie,” teacher Karen Ennis said of Maggie. “She always had a song in her heart. And always came in with a smile.”

Born Aug. 22, 2003, Maggie just missed the age cutoff to enter school as a kindergartner for the 2008-09 school year. But she received a waiver and her family chose to send her to Ouabache since brother Michael, now a sixth-grader, had attended there from first through fourth grades.

Maggie died Feb. 22, 2009 of the injuries she sustained in a Vermillion County automobile crash. Her death stunned her schoolmates, but a special Silly Safaris animal program earlier this school year helped the students find an appropriate way to celebrate Maggie’s brief life.

The Silly Safaris book “The Lightning Bug Queen” sat in one of the outdoor rocking chairs, where librarian Jackie Secrest can read to students while they sit on carpet squares in Maggie’s Garden.

“I think it’s really special to us to know that Maggie meant so much to the school that they do this,” Linda Vicory said. “It’s nice to know she meant so much to the school, as much as it meant to her.”

“She was just a little ball of sunshine,” father Michael stated. “Even though it’s been almost a year and a half now, it’s still tough. We miss her every day, and there will always be that piece of us that’s missing.”

Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com.

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