Editorial: West Chicago High School's desecration of memorial

  • Lee Ann Meiborg says she frequently visited the tree and plaque that honored her late daughter, Amanda.

    Lee Ann Meiborg says she frequently visited the tree and plaque that honored her late daughter, Amanda. Courtesy of Lee Ann Meiborg

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted6/22/2019 2:00 PM

Progress is part of the natural order of things. The landscape changes continually and almost inevitably.

But sensitivity ought to be part of the natural order, too.

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By now, you've likely heard of West Chicago High School's desecration of a memorial to 2002 class valedictorian Amanda Meiborg.

In fact. the news has spread as far away as the United Kingdom, where the British tabloid Metro reported on it Thursday. That's how remarkable the inexcusable outrage by administrators in West Chicago High School District 94 was.

A memorial tree and plaque remembering Amanda, who died of cancer shortly after graduating, were removed from the school grounds earlier this spring to make way for a construction project.

Perhaps that removal was unavoidable, perhaps not. Caring people can reasonably debate that.

But more incomprehensible is that it was done without a phone call or any notice to Amanda's family. Apparently there was no consideration given to transplanting the tree or relocating the memorial in some way. There was no ceremony, no announcement, no kind thought.

We appreciate that after the family discovered the removal of the memorial, school Board President Renee Yackey reached out to apologize.

But the comfort produced by that phone call was undermined by an almost simultaneous statement school officials released saying that, "While we have been the grateful recipients of many class gifts and memorials in the 93-year-old history of our building, it would be costly to the taxpayers to preserve them all indefinitely and therefore impossible to do."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Seriously? They've got to be kidding!

The school district has established so many memorials that it doesn't have the resources to keep up with them? Can't even make a phone call or find a spot on a wall to repost a plaque?

It's good that the school board plans to review the district's policy concerning memorials. We hope it also reminds school officials of the responsibility they have as role models to display compassion and basic human decency.

Meanwhile, the community response has been reassuring even if the school district's has not.

A GoFundMe page generated the funds to honor Amanda's memory with a tree at the Morton Arboretum and a donation from Alex Carbonara. owner of DuPage Cremations and Memorial Chapel in West Chicago, will provide for another memorial tree at Reed-Keppler Park in West Chicago.

By all accounts, Amanda Meiborg was a special young woman. Her passing at such a young age was a particular tragedy.

May she be remembered always.

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