Southern Regional Middle Schoolers Dedicate Tree in Memory of Security Guard

Jun 14, 2017
Courtesy of: Gerilyn Heinz

In October, Southern Regional Middle School lost an integral part of its family when security guard Richard Baran passed away of a heart attack. But now he’ll be forever remembered because of a student council initiative this spring.

When President Bria Mineo, Vice President Kelsey Bigum and Secretary Elle Cecchini recently planted a crepe myrtle outside the school, it culminated months of fundraising and waiting for warmer weather as the council dedicated the tree in Baran’s memory.

“Mr. Rich was loved by all the students in the school,” said student council adviser and language arts teacher Gerilyn Heinz. “They responded so well to him and respected him. He was so great, always smiling, happy, talking with the kids. And they felt safe with him. He was a big part of the Southern family, so when he passed away, the student council wanted to do something to honor him.”

A retired police officer, Baran served the Southern district as a security guard for 22 years. After getting permission from Principal Lorraine Airey, the student council put its plan into action. Teacher Matt Moore reached out to a local landscaper to acquire the tree, and the student council led multiple fundraisers to accumulate the funds to purchase the tree and a plaque to rest alongside it.

On May 23, a group of students dug the hole for the tree and Mineo, Bigum and Cecchini settled the tree into the ground. The plaque reads: “This tree is dedicated to Richard Baran for his 22 years of devotion to the Southern family. His spirit will shine through forever.”

Heinz praised the student council and the school for rising to do something so special.

“It’s great to see the kids step up and do the right thing,” she said. “When they start making adult-type decisions and start thinking about others instead of themselves, it’s really awesome. It was sad and unexpected when Mr. Rich passed, but the kids rallied around the idea to honor him. The tree was a perfect way to do that.”

— David Biggy

(Courtesy of: Gerilyn Heinz)
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