Students make park for classmate who died |

Students make park for classmate who died

Sheila Gardner

Students at C.C. Meneley Elementary School, touched by the brief life of a classmate who died in December of cerebral palsy, collected $900 in pennies to purchase a bench, plaque and trees to create a park in his honor.

Nine-year-old Sean Nelson was a student at CCMES for only 18 months, but during that time he made a tremendous impact on his 3rd and 4th grade classmates and other students at the school. He died Dec. 8, 1996.

“He brought sunshine to everybody who knew him,” said Norvella Hogan, Sean’s grandmother who raised him after his mother died when he was 2.

“He was a very special little guy,” she said. “He brought a smile to everybody’s face just the way he was.”

Norvella, her husband Larry and Sean moved to Carson Valley from Ventura, Calif. in 1995.

“When we lived in California, he went to a school for handicapped children,” she said. “I was apprehensive about him going to a regular school because I didn’t know how it would work, but it was a wonderful experience for him. He sure made an impact on the children. They will remember him forever.”

The park was dedicated on Friday at a ceremony attended by Sean’s family and the entire school.

“It was just wonderful,” Hogan said. “We knew they were going to have a memorial service, but it was a little bit more awesome than we expected it to be.”

Kelly Carlson, school counselor, said the students collected more than $900 in pennies to purchase the items for the park. Fourth grade students of Terrie Adams and Gerdy Hayes counted the pennies, made blue ribbons for everyone to wear and baked cookies.

Paulette Irving, Sean’s adaptive physical education teacher, put together a slide show about Sean, and Patrick Keenan’s 5th grade students assembled the bench.

“We had some parents volunteer to pay any balance we might have, however this was not needed,” Carlson said. “McDonald’s, our business partner, donated the punch. A parent, Sam Want, assisted in finding a bench.”

Carlson said the extra money raised will be donated to the National Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

“The entire school benefited from knowing Sean,” Carlson said.