Ninth-graders plant tree as memorial to classmate

November 18, 1998|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

Whenever Sherry Lane had a problem with her family or a typical ninth-grade trauma, she turned to her classmate Karen Lynn Hayes for help.

Karen was easy to talk to, Lane said, because she was always willing to listen.

A month after Karen's death, Sherry and her classmates at South Baltimore's Benjamin Franklin Middle School are still grappling with the loss of a friend to whom many had turned.

Yesterday, about 45 students and faculty planted a dogwood tree in memory of the 16-year-old girl who was killed in a car accident. The students also buried a time capsule of poems about Karen and photos of the ceremony outside the school, which is in the 1200 block of Cambria St.

"I could always talk to her about my feelings and troubles," said Sherry, 14. "She was like a big sister to me."

Karen, who lived with her grandparents in the 3600 block of St. Margaret St., was killed Oct. 25 when she was hit by a pickup truck outside the school. The accident is still under investigation and no charges have been filed against the truck's driver, a 17-year-old Brooklyn boy, said Agent Angelique Cook-Hayes, police spokeswoman.

Several hours after the accident, classmates, friends and neighbors placed flowers, signed posters and decorated bricks at the site.

Nancy Strohminger, a social worker at the school, helped orchestrate the tree ceremony through Praxair, a Connecticut-based company that sells gases for manufacturing. The company has planted or distributed more than 200,000 trees for memorials and other events since 1990.

"I think the kids were struggling with this and the tree was a good way to have a memorial," Strohminger said.

Pub Date: 11/18/98

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