On the evening of December 11, a large crowd gathered around a 30 foot cedar and gasped at the beauty of the blue and white lights as they suddenly sparkled through the snow-laden branches. Mini luminaries created by MCS students lined the sidewalks, glow sticks were in hand, and the Cub Scouts marched behind a drummer out to the lawn. The occasion was the first annual tree lighting ceremony in memory of two beloved Alumni: Emily Lyman, Class of 2012, and Ryan Collins, Class of 2004.
Emily Lyman, was a prolific writer who was published several times, and she was voted “most inspirational” by her classmates. She passed away in 2012 during her freshman year at Rice Memorial High School. She is the daughter of Gene and Monica Lyman and sister to three siblings: Colin, a 6th grader at MCS; Elizabeth, an MCS alumna and current freshman at Rice; and Caitlyn, an MCS and Rice alumna.
Ryan Collins was an enthusiastic student who enjoyed science, the Cub Scouts, and riding his bike. He always felt loved and supported by his friends, classmates and teachers. He passed away at the age of ten in 2000. Ryan is the son of Tim and Michelle Collins and brother to four siblings: Lily, a 1st grader at MCS; Megan, MCS alumna and current junior at Rice; and Shannon and Julie who are MCS and Rice Alumnae.
After the Cub Scouts did a flag salute in honor of Ryan, Mr. Anthony Fontana, principal of Mater Christi School, welcomed the group and then Sr. Laura Della Santa former principal of Mater Christi and the current Superintendent of Catholic Schools led a prayer of dedication. Mrs. Jean Rock, who has been at Mater Christi School for 30 years, gave a heartfelt tribute recalling what she admired most about Ryan and Emily. Students then read poems written by Emily Lyman and written by 5th grade students inspired by Emily. After the group sang some Christmas hymns, they gathered in the school gym for a Christmas Choral Concert, directed by Mr. Matthew O’Neil, MCS music teacher.
The school plans to make the area around the tree into a memorial garden that will also honor other Mater Christi School students who have died while attending the school or shortly afterwards. Sr. Laura mentioned these students by name in her dedication. The annual lighting of the tree will form the focal point of this special space.
Sister Joanne LaFreniere, RSM
Director of Public Relations and Spiritual Life
Additionally, we would like to recognize and thank the following people and businesses for their help with this special event:
- Glenda Bedard– who not only thought of this event, but helped string the lights in the bitter cold, organized the readings, and was able to roll with all the hiccups and glitches that occurred along the way
- Nate Fields– Fields Electric VT, for helping with the electrical
- Brent Tremblay– for going up in a cherry picker and stringing lights at the tip top of the tree on a bitter cold Sunday morning
- Essex Equipment– for allowing us to borrow their cherry picker
- Mike Early– for stringing lights
- Sarah Lavoie– for helping orchestrate all the details and taking the beautiful photos
- Anthony Fontana– for stringing the lights and snow blowing the lawn for the event
- Noel Boucher– for clearing the oodles of snow that came down the day before the tree lighting ceremony
- Mark Pendergrass– for stringing the lights
- Hannah Robertson and her students– for the sweet luminaries that lined the walkways
- Joe Fischer & Kaitlyn Dorey– for stringing lights
Lastly, thank you to the many people who donated toward this effort for expenses. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.