Lange Middle School honors late sixth grader, beloved secretary
COLUMBIA - Lange Middle School's first outdoor classroom was just a thought last summer. Now, the new learning environment will be open for all summer school students.
Lange Middle School learning specialist Stephanie Coleman felt inspired to create something dedicated to a former student and co-worker. She contacted fellow faculty member, Tylisha Johnson, and the pair got started.
"It did take a little while, but once we started contacting businesses and talking to people face to face, you know, they were very receptive and wanted to help us," Coleman said.
The school mourned two losses in 2017. Coleman keeps a picture of sixth grader Shianna Mays beside her desk.
"An all around wonderful kid. Always had a smile on her face. She was very quiet, very soft-spoken, very sweet. She would do anything in the world that we asked her to," Coleman said.
In the middle of the fall semester, the school nurse's secretary, Becky Mordica, died from cancer.
The faculty members developed a partnership throughout the process, in the wake of the losses.
Johnson said, "When she came up with this idea and we started talking about it, it kind of just became, 'let's get it done' so, sisters for life."
The idea picked up traction in the beginning of 2018, with a lot of financial support for local businesses and community members.
Lange has dedicated trees for students and faculty members in the past, but the outdoor classroom presents new opportunities for current and future students.
"With the benches that we have, they're able to convert into table-top, so it will allow the kids to paint, to color, to write, anything that they need to do to be a successful student this summer," Johnson said.
Johnson and Coleman are hosting the dedication ceremony Tuesday night. It is open to the public.