Hundreds of friends, family, Laurel School students and staff gathered Sunday, Sept. 16 to celebrate the dedication of "Jessica's Garden."
The rooftop garden at Laurel School was created to honor student Jessica Frankel, who died from injuries in a tubing accident in December 2011. She was 16 years old.
Jessica, a Shaker Heights resident, would have graduated from the private school this spring.
Jessica's father, Don, spoke at the ceremony, as did Ann V. Klotz, head of Laurel School and Jessica’s uncle, Steven Frankel.
Klotz said that the morning was "not to grieve Jessica’s absence, but to celebrate the many ways in which her presence has enriched and continues to enrich our lives.”
“We know that Jess loved the outdoors and mountains and fresh air and the natural world. While we could not reproduce mountains at Laurel, we think she would like the idea of being up high," Klotz said. "In the coming months, the garden will be a space for Jessica’s classmates as they continue to mourn their friend. Later in the year, we will open it to the whole school as a place of quiet contemplation, a space for reflection.”
According to the school, Jessica's parents Lori and Don came up with the idea for the rooftop garden and helped develop the concept. The garden was paid for through private donations.
During the ceremony, Anthony Gault, Laurel School middle and upper school music conductor, played while girls from the senior class, Jessica's class, sang. Gadi Gallili, educator at Park Synagogue, offered the blessing for the garden. Attendees then had brunch and toured the rooftop garden.
“Years from now, girls in the school will no longer know Jess as you do, but her name will be kept alive on our lips and future generations of Laurel girls will seek the garden as their refuge,” Klotz said.
For more information about Jessica’s Garden, visit the Jessica Frankel website.