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Christa McAuliffe Elementary dedicates garden in memory of student killed by drunk driver

SMSD to dedicate garden in memory of former student killed by drunk driver
Posted at 7:15 AM, Apr 19, 2024

LENEXA, Kan. — Christa McAuliffe Elementary dedicated a garden on its grounds to the memory of Nolan Davidson, a beloved student whose life was tragically cut short by a drunk driving accident.

The garden serves as a memory to Nolan's spirit and the lasting impact he made on the school community.

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“He was a student who had a big impact on kids, even by third grade. He was everyone's friend," Principal Michael Orr said. "Nolan was a student that everyone liked. Nolan was a student that got along with everyone."

Nolan, a vibrant and promising 9-year-old student, was involved in a car accident late last year when a drunk driver collided with the vehicle he was traveling in. The incident left a deep void in the hearts of his fellow classmates, teachers and the community.

“I've been in education for 31 years and it was the toughest thing that I had to deal with," Orr said.

In efforts to keep his name alive, the school is dedicating a garden gifted through a grant last summer. The garden is not only an opportunity for students to engage, but it also serves as a memory of their former classmate.

“When I brought this up to the Davidsons initially, one of the things that they shared was that Nolan was really excited about the opportunity to do some gardening," Orr said.

The serene garden features 17 high-rise garden beds and benches. Orr said the community has been very supportive since it was built.

"We have families who sign up in the summer to come by the week and water and weed and pick the vegetables and things," Orr said. "The district will help facilitate the maintenance."

The garden has received even the attention of the city of Lenexa, which will gift the school two butterfly gardens.

On May 16, the school will host a special garden dedication to the Davidson family, where the community will gather in honor of Nolan.

"Everything has its cycles and we can always go out there and see his name and know that you can think about him," Orr said.