GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — A memorial to honor students and staff who have died during their time at Center Grove Schools was dedicated Thursday.
The memorial that shows the image of a tree was the result of an Eagle Scout project by the superintendent’s son, a student in the district. The memorial sits on a path outside of the education building near the district offices, 4800 W. Stones Crossing Road.
For his project to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America, Richie Arkanoff decided to create something that would serve his community.
The idea for a Center Grove memorial, though, came well before the 17-year-old started working on his project.
Over the last decade, Center Grove Schools has been expanding. Some of the trees and memorials dedicated to students and staff had to be moved for the growth.
The Johnson County district now has more than 8,500 pupils, according to an Indiana Department of Education database. In the 2014-2015 school year, the district had 7,796 students.
Richie’s dad, Center Grove Superintendent Richard Arkanoff, said, “Richie became aware of this situation back when he was about 11 years old and he was thinking about a solution. He has always been kind of a problem-solver.”
Richie worked on his Eagle Scout project for two years. “And that is when I first started talking to the school corporation and the school board and getting some of those pieces rolling,” Richie said.
The boy said he wanted a central location where people could go to honor those within the district who have died.
“Having a site that is protected and will be a permanent location was really key in this,” Superintendent Arkanoff said.
The effort involved more than 120 hours of work from more than 40 community volunteers, plus donations of material, labor and more than $3,000.
Richie said, “There is just a lot of moving parts so it felt really good to get that all together.”
He chose the location so that people who visited could have some privacy while still having easy access.
“The response to it has been really good,” Richie said. “I really appreciate everyone that’s given me good feedback on it and thought that it was really special and really cool.”
Richie said the more people find out about his project, the more calls he gets for names to be added to keep their memory alive.
The memorial has 42 names on it. The names date back to the early 1960s. Some are as recent as 2018. The school created an online directory to help community members find who is listed on the memorial.
The superintendent said, “The follow-through and the attention to detail, which is so important to the individuals that this monument will mean much more to.”