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Students find myriad ways to honor girls

by: COURTESY PHOTO: DEBORAH GRIMES - Providence Hospital gave this bereavement quilt to Abby Robinsons class. Students and staff have signed the back of it and will give it to Abbys parents when the time is right.Students and staff throughout the Forest Grove School District have honored Abigail Robinson and Anna Dieter-Eckerdt in a variety of ways.

Abby was a student in what teacher Deb Grimes called a "very close-knit" sixth-grade class at Tom McCall Upper Elementary School. Her death has hit most of the students hard, Grimes said, and they started their own little memorial, leaving notes and pictures on Abby's desk, much like others have been leaving items at the scene of the accident on Main Street.

To help with the grieving process, Providence Hospital gave the class a bereavement quilt. Each child, along with staff at the school, signed the back of the quilt, which will be delivered to the family when they are ready for it, Grimes said. Dilley Elementary School, where Anna attended, also received a quilt.

Wanting to do more, Abby's classmates came up with the idea of folding origami cranes, from a story they’d read last year about the Japanese tradition. “If you make a thousand cranes,” Grimes explained, “it means healing and hope.”

At Grimes’ invitation, retired teacher Charlie Graham brought in supplies and donated his time to teach three classrooms of six graders how to fold the paper birds.

"They did a phenomenal job," said Graham, who once ran an Origami Club at Tom McCall. "They came up with this idea independently. This is what they wanted to do to heal."

Before folding a square of paper, the students were encouraged to write on it a happy memory or happy thought. The thousand cranes will be strung together, hung from a dowel and displayed somewhere in the school. “When they see it,” Mrs. Grimes said, “it will be a reminder of all the happy memories.”

Dilley first-graders have prepared a planting bed in the school garden, that will later be planted in honor of Anna. “We’re going to let the emotions settle a bit,” principal Angella Graves said, “before deciding what kind of permanent marker to create, and what kind of event to create.”

Also at Dilley, students wore the sisters’ favorite colors, blue and purple, to school several days after the accident.

Later in the week, high school teams follwed suit, with the volleyball team wearing blue and purple ribbons into competition, soccer team members displaying those colors on their arms and football players taping their wrists and ankles in blue and purple. Even the Vikings' opponent in that game paid tribute to the girls. The Tigard Tigers showed up wearing blue and purple socks.

Before Friday night’s game, the Forest Grove football team captains carried one blue and one purple balloon to the middle of the field and released them into the evening sky.

"As they floated away, the ballons went directly toward Main Street," said Doug Thompson, the high school atheletics director. "That was as an emotional evening as I have ever had in my career."




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