Salem Elementary School student Denrone Mitchell shovels dirt onto the snowball bush (hydrangea) placed by the faculty, staff and student body in memory of Carlia Alexander, Treyshawn Bell, Anthony Porter and Derriontae Ousley-Porter. The plant and plaque were officially placed Monday to remember the family, who died in a house fire March 6, 2010. -- Rick Couch

Students honor lost friends

Published 11:06pm Monday, March 28, 2011

MARION JUNCTION — The Salem Elementary School faculty, staff and students held a special ceremony Monday to celebrate lost lives by bringing a new one.

Shortly after lunch, everyone gathered in the courtyard of the school to plant a snowball bush and dedicate a monument to honor the lives of Carlia Alexander, Treyshawn Bell, Anthony Porter and Derriontae Ousley-Porter.

The family died in a house fire March 6, 2010 that also claimed the life of Willie Oden.

The school, principal Melvin Flanagan-Brown said, wanted to do something to honor the students and create a pleasant place for future students to relax.

“They wanted something unique and wanted a showpiece for the campus,” she said of the second grade students who chose the snowball bush. “That bush will continue to grow like the children who are in our lives.”

The ceremony, Flanagan-Brown said, gives the students closure.

“We consider it the end of this chapter,” she said. “The love is still there. Ms. Carlia was always at the school and was very involved. They all were. We felt like we needed to do something to remember them.”

Planting the tree and creating a new life, Dallas County Schools Superintendent Fannie Major-McKenzie said, is a great way to remember the family that was so involved in the school.

“We loved them as family and students,” she said. “Now we will always be able to remember them and honor their memories. We will hold them in our hearts forever.”

During the ceremony, members of the Dallas County School Board and residents of the area read inspirational messages, Bible verses and students sang songs to remember the students.

Each second grader also got a chance to shovel dirt onto the tree as it was placed in its official location by Flanagan-Brown, second grade teacher Roberta T-Lewis and King Franklin, who built the stand and prepared the area.

With the plaque and plant in place, T-Lewis said, the students’ memories will live forever.

“Mourning is one of the most profound experiences a human can have,” she said. “This bush will grace us and bless us for many years to come. It will be seen by many children.”

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