Video: South Jersey School Remembers Late Student With Memorial Garden


MILLVILLE, N.J. – A local school has built a special memorial to honor the memory of a student who tragically passed away.
May 2015 left the Reick Elementary School community dealing with the tragic loss of eight-year-old Melissa Ann Headley.
“Melissa was truly a gift from god for us, she was a miracle. She was so bright and shiny from the beginning, so curious about the world,” said Franklin Headley, Melissa's uncle.
The second grader passed away from injuries caused by a car accident.
“Melissa was just so full of life. She was very, very intelligent, very creative,” said Cheryl Calvert, first-grade teacher at Reick Avenue Elementary School. “She loved nature, she was a wonderful reader and writer and we wanted to come up with a way to honor her memory.”
And on Tuesday the school, friends, family, and community members came together to honor her memory with the dedication of a school memorial reading garden.
“It’s built to accommodate two to three classes, so we can have a whole grade level out here at one time for reading. The children can come out here [to do] write, [and] hopefully music and art projects,” said Calvert.
Since young Headley’s passing, the school raised over $17,000 to create this peaceful spot for children to enjoy for years to come.
“So many people were involved in this project so just to thank everyone and for everyone to see what the future will hold for the area, that we will never forget Melissa and that something positive came out of a tragic situation,” said Calvert.
Her family says they feel immensely grateful to see so many come together to honor their daughter. And Tuesday's dedication shows just how the memory of her eight short years will live on at this memorial reading garden.
“I think for us this reading garden is a monument to Melissa, and it’s a monument how a very little person saying and doing very little things really add up to something big,” said Headley.