• Building committee to axe memorial trees at Billerica HS, donate lumber to families


    BILLERICA, Mass. - A group of trees meant to memorialize six former Billerica Memorial High School students who died in the 90s will be axed to make way for a new school facility and a more general memorial. 

    The building committee met Tuesday night and voted to bring down the trees, which had their accompanying plaques removed last year in preparation. 

    The memorial walkway and trees were a gift of the class of 1994 in memory of six students who passed away in the 90s. Carrie Keyes, 17, Jeff Dunakin, 16, and Amy Ward, 18, were killed in car accidents in 1993 and 1994. Ami Jones, 16, Verity Colon, 18, and Christopher Eastman, 15, were killed in later years. 

    It was Eastman's father who discovered the plaques had been removed earlier this year when he stopped by the school to visit the memorial. 

    The memorial's location, between the school's parking lot and the building, was slated for removal in order to make way for the new athletic field and track. 

    The memorial had become the subject of debate in April when members of the class of 94 brought the issues up with the school committee. At the time, the principal, Tom Murphy, urged the committee to take into consideration that there were other students who had died in subsequent years and the memorial should be open to "all lives." 

    In a meeting Tuesday night, the school building committee voted to give the plaques to family members of the students and offer to give them the lumber from the removed trees -- if they want it. It was decided the trees could not be saved and would be removed. 

    The building committee opted to make a reflection area at the new school to honor all the students who had died. 

    There will be a time for families to come to pay respects at the existing memorials before they are removed. 

    PREVIOUS: School committee votes to relocate memorial, trees dedicated to fallen students

    Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified the school building committee as the school committee. We apologize for the error. This has been corrected. 

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