McLouth 4th-graders honor classmate
Students plant pink rosebush in memory of Barbie Cain
Sheri Thomas didn't get to know Barbie Cain for long.
In fact, Barbie was only in Thomas' fourth-grade class at McLouth Elementary School only a few weeks before a tragic accident took Barbie's life this past September.
But the impact that Barbie had on her teacher and her fellow classmates was enough that even eight months later Thomas and her fourth-graders would want to honor the special memory of their friend.
On Thursday, May 17, the fourth-grade class and other MES students, faculty and staff attended a memorial ceremony for Barbie.
Thomas and her class planted a pink rosebush and set up a plaque just to the east of the second-grader's butterfly garden on the school's grounds. Also in attendance was Barbie's sister Kylee, who is in second grade.
"I think it's the nicest thing," said Barbie's mother, Cindy Cain, about Thomas' class having the memorial for her daughter. "Pink was her favorite color."
Cindy said the rosebush was something she and her family could visit every year when the roses were blossoming.
Thomas, who remembers Barbie as a someone who always had a smile on her face and who was a "girl's girl" with the way she dressed, said it was hard for some of her students to accept the loss.
"The kind of tragedy that we had was not something that the elementary students have to deal with, so it was pretty tough with the kids when it happened," she said.
The students who sat next to Barbie took it the hardest. They did not want to move her desk and they did not want to take down anything that had Barbie's name on it. Thomas said they "wanted to make sure those things stayed."
Thomas had the students do many different activities to cope with Barbie's death.
"They wrote in their journals. We had the administrators and counselors come and be available to them," Thomas said. "Some drew pictures and some just wanted to quietly reflect."
And whenever Barbie's name would come up, Thomas took extra time with her students to talk about what had happened.
Barbie's grandmother, Betty Laster, said Barbie loved school and now the rosebush is "something that will always be there now."
The rosebush was given to the school as a donation and the money for a memorial plaque was raised by the McLouth Methodist Youth Group.