“May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest,” the words of the legendary Shakespeare classic Hamlet are blazoned on a plaque adorning the front bricks of unfamiliar memorial fountain outside Gordon Central.
Little do many of these students know, this is a fountain erected to honor Gordon Central students who passed away before their time, but due to insufficient funds, the fountain has long lacked the care and attention that made it beautiful once upon a time.
Named the “Fountain of Hope” by Gordon Central students, the memorial was built in honor of Gordon Central students who have sadly, never lived beyond their high school days.
With the retirement of Gordon Central’s first principal Dr. Harold Hughes in 1993, came the charge to long time teacher Darlene Callan, from Hughes, to honor Gordon Central students who have died.
Many of the students who have passed away since the schools inception, Callan recalls knowing and having some ties to.
Hughes set aside $5,000 for Callan to use to honor these students. Enlisting the help of her students, plans for the Fountain of Hope were drawn up and constructed.
The end result was a brick pathway leading to the fountain surrounded by trees, and benches, constructed and placed by students in teacher Bengi Price’s construction class, under the trees around the fountain.
During the first years of the fountain, other Gordon County students sadly passed away, and Callan recalls seeing roses placed near the fountain or a wreath on occasion. Looking back, Callan remembers the fountain years ago.
“Unfortunately, more students died. We had remembrance gatherings for them at the fountain. I met with Crawford and Barbara Greeson there on more than one occasion, as we remembered their son, John,” said Callan.
The Fountain of Hope had become the symbol of remembrance Callan had hoped for, but the story does not end there.
Time has taken its toll, as with anything in life. Today the fountain lays dry, and dormant with no water, and roots of the budding trees that once adorned the sides of the fountain were removed due to interference with the plumbing for the school.
Last fall, students in Callan’s class adopted revisions to the fountain, and formed a committee to make it the beautiful landmark it once was.
Currently, the five seniors on the student committee are Gordon Central seniors Sam Welty, Manan Brahmbhatt, Heaven Lingle, Jared Hefner, and Andrew Timms.
“So many families have lost students and this is where they come to remember them. It is something special between them and Mrs. Callan. They always call her up and come up here and she brings them here and it is just a special place for them to come and remember their children, so I think it’s really important that we restore it for them,” said Lingle.
Working on the fountain itself not only rejuvenates the surroundings, but the symbolism of the fountain is much more than just a landmark to some students.
“I think the fountain is somewhat symbolic of the memories of these kids and rebuilding it we think about them every time we come out here,” said Brahmbhatt.
The empty holes where trees once stood have since been replaced with knockout roses and other shrubbery around the still fountain, planted by these students.
“This is just so important to so many people; I just like to feel like I had a part in restoring it,” said Timms.
Recently, unknown suspects vandalized the Fountain of Hope’s filter, and even these high school seniors couldn’t believe something as sacred as this memorial would be the source of destruction for anyone.
“I think it’s sad that people don’t really know what it is about and people vandalize it because they just don’t know how important it is to the families of someone who has lost a student. Getting it restored and having people know what it is about definitely would be a good thing,” said Hefner.
Though sad, vandalism was the least of the student committee’s fears, as plumbers had diagnosed a much deeper problem with the fountain, needing work well beyond their capabilities. Without the proper funding, the fountain cannot be restored to its former glory.
“Plumbers inspected the fountain and told me that in order to repair the fountain, the rocks at the back would have to be removed. We have no money, but we are willing workers. If we can find someone to donate the time and expertise, we can all help to repair the fountain,” said Callan.
In her 27th and final year of teaching at Gordon Central High School, Callan will go on to retirement but says she is determined to see the fountain reclaim its purpose of hope and remembrance for all the students that have passed away.
“As I leave Gordon Central this year, I am determined that this fountain will not become a planter, filled with rocks, dirt, and plants. It’s meant to be a respite for those who want to remember, and what better place than next to the music of flowing water,” said Callan.
According to Gordon County School’s Superintendent Dr. Bill McCown, he is not surprised by Callan’s passion to see the project completed and cared for before retirement.
“Mrs. Callan has such love for Gordon Central, and she just could not leave without knowing there was something undone that she was a part of. It’s so true to character; Mrs. Callan making sure everything is done well before she steps off into retirement,” said McCown.
Similarly, as the current seniors who began the fountain’s renewal project go on to graduate and leave for college, it is their hope that other up and coming Gordon Central seniors will follow in their footsteps, as they plan to visit the fountain on visits home from college.
“I think it’s important because it’s a memory and I would want my memories to be cherished just like theirs would,” said Welty.
The Fountain of Hope was given its name, according to Callan, “because with hope we can move on, still loving. If love could have saved these students, they would still be here,” she said.
For information on how you can help Gordon Central students save the Fountain of Hope, contact Darlene Callan at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.