Memorials created for much-loved teachers

Parcells, South teachers remembered

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 13, 2013

 Parcells students, past and present, wrote messages on leaves for a memorial tree for beloved teacher Brian Aulph during a dedication ceremony earlier this week.

Parcells students, past and present, wrote messages on leaves for a memorial tree for beloved teacher Brian Aulph during a dedication ceremony earlier this week.

Photo by April Lehmbeck

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GROSSE POINTES — Students hung orange and yellow leaves on the branches of a fall fiesta maple tree with messages to a teacher who would have loved the crisp, fall atmosphere where family, students and friends gathered to remember his legacy this week.

Parcells Middle School hosted a dedication to teacher Brian Aulph. Aulph died in February at the age of 36 following complications from surgery, according to media reports.

“You’re my favorite teacher,” one student wrote on a leaf during the ceremony.

“We miss you,” another leaf stated.

A third student wrote, “Have fun fishing in heaven.”

Students in Grosse Pointe Schools have dealt with their share of losses among their teachers this year. South High School award-winning journalism teacher Jeff Nardone died earlier this month at the age of 48 after battling cancer.

For Aulph, a bench with memorial plaques and a picnic table were dedicated, along with the tree so students can enjoy the space. A plaque on the bench reads, “In loving memory of Brian ‘Señor’ Aulph. As you were you will always be, Treasured forever in our memory. Actitud y Esfuerzo 1976-2013.” The second plaque has a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that states, “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.”

Principal Cathryn Armstrong said it was fitting that the dedication be made on Veterans Day.

“He was a longtime chaperone for the Washington, D.C., trip,” she said. “He came from a service family. … This is a very important part of Mr. Aulph’s legacy.”

Those gathered had a moment of silence for Aulph and in honor of Veterans Day.

Armstrong also thanked student council.

“Our student council this year conceptualized this memorial,” she said. “Our student council really brought it to the floor and made it happen.”

Members of student council were on hand at the event, among other students.

“It’s just a happy way to remember him,” said eighth-grade Parcells student Blerina Berisha, who is a member of student council.

Several students who have moved on to Grosse Pointe North spoke during Aulph’s ceremony this week.

“He was an amazing man that always had a smile on his face,” said Niki Nezeritis, who graduated from Parcells last year. “He was just a great person in general. … He loves you all, and we all love him.”

Another former student said he was her best friend and continued to help her even after she left the middle school.

Trevor Joy, a junior at North, said Aulph taught him a lot in life as his teacher and football coach.

“I liked his taste in music,” he said. “I really loved his character.”

Teacher Brian McDonald said that the area where the dedication took place was the location of a favorite activity of Aulph’s, because he loved to barbecue for the faculty.

“Someone like Mr. Aulph certainly made Parcells what it is today,” McDonald said. “The school year has not been the same. Parcells will not be the same, but Mr. Aulph will always be with us.”

Some of the students choked up during their time to take the microphone and give a few words about their teacher.

Aulph’s family members said a few words, as well.

Nardone’s legacy will include a schoalrship.

The Michigan Interscholastic Press Association established a scholarship in Nardone’s honor, which will help students to go to Michigan State University for the MIPA Summer Journalism Workshop. Donations can be made to the scholarship fund at mipamsu.org/mipa-board-establishes-jeff-nardone-scholarship.

As of Nov. 8, $3,600 had been donated to the scholarship in Nardone’s name, according to MIPA’s Facebook page.

“Thank you for helping to honor our friend,” MIPA stated on Facebook. “Your support and the memories that you’ve been sharing about Jeff provide strength to his friends and family. We are happy to honor Jeff’s memory and to carry on his passion for working with students.”

Student staff of The Tower, South’s school newspaper, ran a tribute edition to Nardone. Students, both past and present, have shared what an impact Nardone had on their lives through the student newspaper and on social media.

Nardone’s students won hundreds of awards, and he was an award-winning teacher.

When it came to credit for the award-winning publication at the school, Nardone had high praise for the work his students put into the program.

“I have outstanding students,” he said in 2011. “The students here at Grosse Pointe South are incredibly hardworking, and they’re dedicated to creating a great paper, and very well-rounded in all kinds of skills to put together a great piece of work each week.”

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