@:Walker Valley High School officially dedicated its butterfly garden started in honor and memory of survivors and lives lost in the Holocaust and other tragic events.
In a ceremony attended by Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis, Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel, Principal Danny Coggin, and family members of a former teacher at Walker Valley, coach Steve McAmis, the arbor and butterfly garden were officially dedicated to the memories of the beautiful lives that were lived before the tragedies that befell them or their communities. The garden was also dedicated to the families who lost loved ones and homes and businesses during the tornadoes of last spring. Because of the many aspects and lives that the garden has the potential to affect, it has come from a memory of something so far away to a remembrance and reflection of the people touching lives even now.
The butterfly garden received an arbor built by the Career Tech department which was received by Culture Week sponsor Lisa Eulo as a dedication to McAmis. It was because of McAmis’ influence and impact on students and teachers at Walker Valley that Culture Week has continued to be an integral institution during the spring at Walker Valley.
@:Plans for the garden began in spring 2011, when 10th-grade English students were studying the novel “Night” by Elie Wiesel. Students began to discuss the historic background of the events that led up to this nonfiction piece of literature. At the same time that these English students were studying the conditions of Europe before and during World War II and the horrifying conditions of the ghettos and concentration camps where the Jews of Europe were destroyed, the German class was reading and translating German novels about the Holocaust. The German class was also reading the German translation of a poem by Pavel Friedman called, “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” which talked about the darkness of the life in the ghetto, but also about how the miracle of nature, the butterfly, and the general natural world outside the ghetto still reached inside the horrors of the evils of the discrimination, separation, deportation, and eventual termination of the Jewish people in Europe.
The impact of this example made the students think about the individual lives that were lost: the children, grandparents, lovers, communities, and entire generations. This became a desire to remember the lives and the beautiful art, poetry, journals, and even music that came from the individuals who eventually lost their lives just because of their differences from the ruling party. The idea evolved of a garden that students of each spring semester would have the opportunity to take care of and plant their own flowers and plants in remembrance of people and events that had impacted them. Because of this transition into a more general idea of remembrance and reflection, the butterfly garden reached into other departments: Math, Agriculture, Career Tech, and Art.
Word got out that here was a place for people to add their own memories to the garden and donations from Jackie Evans Trucking, Lee University, ACE Hardware and Home Depot were given to the project. Jackie Evans Trucking alone donated enough supplies to fill the form of the butterfly garden with several inches of beautiful red mulch and pea gravel. Finally, the butterfly bushes were established and rose bushes were bought with recycling money provided by Coke. The roses have become nicknamed “Roses for Rwanda” as an effort to remind students of the importance of recognizing recent genocides like those in Rwanda, Darfur, and the regions of the Sudan.