Plank North community plants tree to remember a young Pioneer

27 May

The spirit of a young Webster boy who succumbed to cancer last autumn will live on for years at Plank Road North Elementary School.

Simon with his good friend Lily in February 2011.

Almost a hundred people gathered in Plank North’s front courtyard Friday afternoon to take part in the dedication of a Bartlett pear tree in memory of Simon Harris, who passed away last October at 11 years of age, after a courageous battle with neuroblastoma. The crowd was filled with family members, neighbors, school friends, karate family friends, and staff members from both Plank North and Spry Middle School.

The sign which now hangs on the tree sums up Simon’s spirit.

Several speakers, led by Simon’s dad Andrew Harris, spoke of Simon’s courage and the difference he made in the lives of everyone around him. Patti Pawluk, whom Simon had as a teacher in second and third grade, remembered Simon’s irrepressible spirit. “Simon always had a huge smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye,” she said. “When I think of Simon, I think of sunshine.” The tree is located immediately outside Pawluk’s classroom window, where she and her students will be able to see its white flowers bloom every spring.

Simon’s dad Andrew Harris speaks at the dedication ceremony.

In a particularly moving part of the ceremony, Andrew invited Simon’s little brother Manny up to be the first to shovel soil onto the base of the new tree. Manny, Andrew explained, never complained throughout the entire ordeal of Simon’s illness, no matter what happened or what needed to be done. After that, family members and friends were invited to also pick up a shovel and help “plant” the tree.

Finally, after a rousing cheer of “Simon! Simon! Simon!” led by Andrew and enthusiastically joined by the entire crowd, dozens of multicolored balloons were released and raced toward the sky.

Abby and Ryan Smith show the special balloons which were released.

As he watched the balloons disappear into the distance, Andrew said, “I’m sure Simon’s smiling from heaven.”

Click on any of the photos to see a gallery of several more.

And they’re off!

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