By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Students, staff members and parents at Oxford High School created a memorial garden on Thursday to remember former OHS student Joseph Adam Taylor, who died in February.
Taylor was only 15, but the outgoing skateboarder made an impact on those around him.
“Joseph was an amazing person,” said OHS senior Allison Kelley, who organized the tribute. “He was friends with everybody. He was popular without being stuck-up.”
Students held two candlelight vigils in Taylor’s memory, but Kelley and several others, urged on by counselor Amy King, felt a need to do more.
“Originally the garden was supposed to be for us to plant during the school day, to work out our anger and frustration and sadness,” said Kelley. Ironically, the effort was rescheduled for after school, when her work schedule kept her away. She hopes instead to be at the ceremony next week for the dedication of the garden and its commemorative plaque.
About a dozen students and adults helped plant irises, hydrangeas and other flowers of blue – Joseph’s favorite color – along with Shasta daisies and other white-blooming perennials. The plants form a modified horseshoe, at the top of which is a corkscrew willow. Two benches are angled to take in most of the garden while facing generally toward the school. Area merchants donated or provided at cost most of the materials.
Student Ally Weatherly, who helped with the planting, said the work was a comforting effort.
“I wanted to be involved as a good-bye to Joseph,” she said.
Student Tyreq Roberson said he was close enough friends with Taylor that “we used to hang out a lot.”
“It makes me feel good that a part of him is still here (in this garden),” Roberson said. “It reminds you that everything is OK.”