Students want memorial to remain

Many at Mount Hebron High fear removal of remembrance for senior killed in accident

April 21, 2006|By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV,SUN REPORTER

When word got out that a memorial for a Mount Hebron High School senior killed in a February car crash was in danger of being removed, Adrienne Webb was outraged.

So Webb, a 17-year-old senior, started a petition drive and within 20 minutes had gathered nearly 100 signatures in support of the memorial for Michele Iampieri.

"Michele is a member of our school," Webb said. "They cannot just erase her. We feel that she is being taken away from us again."

Iampieri was killed Feb. 17 when the car in which she was riding crashed about a mile from Mount Hebron on Route 99 while heading to a school dance.

The memorial is set up in a display case outside the main office. It has a black background, contains three pictures of Iampieri and reads: "In Memory Michele Catherine Iampieri 1988-2006."

Webb said the students have not been told why the memorial is in danger of being removed.

Many have heard that some parents objected to the memorial, saying that it is too morbid; others have heard that the grieving process is over; while some think the memorial is in danger because of the feeling that the memorial glorifies drunken driving.

Awaiting test results

Though they are awaiting the results of blood-alcohol tests, police have said they believe that alcohol and speed played a factor in the accident.

Mount Hebron senior Theresa Rayburn, 17, the driver, was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center and eventually released. Iampieri, a front-seat passenger, was killed at the scene.

Rayburn's boyfriend, Christopher Missett, a junior who was riding in the back seat, was released from the trauma center with a hairline fracture to his jaw.

Principal Veronica Bohn said the situations surrounding Iampieri's death are not an issue in the fate of the memorial.

"Oh, heavens no," Bohn said.

She added that although some parents have expressed concerns about the memorial she does not plan to take the memorial down now.

"Some people feel it was time to come down," Bohn said. "Others feel like it should be up there longer. I'm trying to balance those concerns. At the present, the memorial seems to provide a reminder to students about the need for safe driving and good decision making as well as a tribute to their lost classmate."

Seeking suggestions

Bohn said she is seeking suggestions for a more permanent memorial for Iampieri.

"As soon as we decide on that, then we can phase out the temporary one," she said.

Cindy Arlinger, president of the PTSA at Mount Hebron High School, said the memorial is tasteful and respectful of Iampieri.

"I personally found it very moving," Arlinger said.

Arlinger said that she has not been approached by any parents or students who object to the memorial.

She said she has heard only positive things about the memorial from parents.

Judith Britton, whose daughter, Chanel, was friends with Iampieri, said students should ultimately be able to decide when the memorial is removed.

"As an adult, sometimes we think we should know when they should stop grieving," said Britton. "As adults we should respect them. That is not a lot to ask for."

She added: "If having a memorial keeps them [students] well, what could be wrong with that?"

Chanel Britton, 17, a senior, agreed that the decision to remove the memorial should not be left up to the administration.

"We lost a friend and someone we loved," she said. "It is not a decision for the school to decide when we stop grieving. It's really upsetting a lot of people."

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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