By Alex Haglund
For many, college is a time of new beginnings. Unfortunately, even young lives can be cut short. Kaskaskia College’s Nashville Education Center commemorated three such lives with trees planted in memorial of these students from the Washington County area who were taken before their time.
The three students memorialized all died within the last three years: Matthew Klaybor of DuBois, 1994-2013; Katie Adams of Nashville, 1990-2014; and Alicia Williams of Hoyleton, 1996-2015.
Also dedicated at the ceremony was a fourth tree, which was planted at the NEC in honor of the 50th wedding anniversary of Tom and Julie Schroeder (the couple will have actually been married 53 years in October.
“A smile is a powerful thing,” said NEC Director Ruth Barczewski. “A smile is the one thing in common between Matthew, Katie, Alicia, and Tom and Julie.
“We’re here to celebrate lives cut short,” said Will Summers, who teaches biology at the NEC and had Katie and Alicia as his students.
“We will not be here to see these trees mature,” Summers continued, “and we have to acknowledge that life goes on.”
Summers shared a little bit about Katie and Alicia or “Allie”, both of whom sat in the same seat in different classes in his room, “the first seat on the right, in the second row.” He spoke about Katie’s report on wetlands biomes, his area of expertise, and read a poem on evolution that Allie wrote.
The trees planted were an Eastern Red Bud Tree for Matthew Klaybor, a Pink Crab Apple Tree for Katie Adams, a Horse Chestnut Tree for Alicia Williams, and a Swamp Chestnut Tree for Tom and Julie Schroeder.
Family members of all three deceased students, as well as family members of the Schroeders, were all present for the ceremony at the NEC.
“These trees will create a living environment of beauty,” Barczewski said, “that will live on into the future.”
The photos of the trees along with the families can be found on page B8.