According to his classmates, Nickolas Engler was always smiling. He was a great friend to everyone, making sure to include everyone.
These are among the most common memories of Nick that students in his fourth-grade classroom shared during a memorial service and celebration of his life held at Cedar Creek Community School May 30.
The celebration of Nick’s life and legacy took place on what would have been his 10th birthday.
Nick died April 20 in a motor cross accident at his Oak Grove home.
Since that time, the remaining 29 students in Holli Hillman’s class, of which Nick was a part, have come together as a family to remember their friend, share their feelings and grieve the loss of a classmate.
“My students and I have an incredible relationship that we are so proud of,” Hillman said. “This was formed from the beginning of the year and has only strengthened through tragedy.”
In addition to talking about their emotions, feelings and memories, Hillman and her students came up with a list of ideas to honor Nick and remember his positive character.
The students designed bracelets, t-shirts and ribbons to wear in remembrance of Nick. They created a Wordle photobook describing who Nick was to them. This book was then given to Nicks’s parents.
They helped plan the ceremony which included a dedication of a memorial stone honoring Nick in a memorial garden in front of the school.
During the ceremony, which included Nick’s classmates and family members, students, wearing t-shirts honoring Nick’s smile, played a song in his honor and shared memories of their friend.
After the dedication, the entire Cedar Creek Community School gathered near the playground where a tree had been planted in Nick’s honor.
Then nearly 1,000 green balloons were released into the air in honor of Nick.
As the brightly colored balloons, in one of Nick’s favorite colors, soared into the air, most of the children cheered, while some of Nick’s classmates wiped tears from their eyes and hugged one another.
Kelly Johnson is at [email protected]