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Gone, but not forgotten

AHOSKIE – Friday, May 12 was the two-year anniversary of the fatal car crash of former Hertford County High School student Michael R. Kelly.

To commemorate Kelly’s untimely death, HCHS unveiled the Kelly Memorial to recognize students who attended the school and passed away before graduating.

Kelly, who was a JROTC Cadet Sergeant at the high school, is one of 14 students whose names are engraved on the memorial. It was members of the JROTC department, including Kelly’s former classmates, who initiated the fundraising drive to pay for the memorial. The cadets were assisted in getting the monument engraved and erected by Clifton Joyner of Clifton & Clifton Memorials.

On hand for the dedication ceremony were HCHS Principal Larry Cooper, HCPS Superintendent Dennis Deloatch and HCPS Board members David Shields and Patrick Young. Several family members of the deceased students, to include the parents of Michael Kelly, were also on hand for the ceremony, which began with Major Wallace White Sr. JROTC Instructor giving opening remarks. The HCHS JROTC Bear Battalion followed the opening remarks with a presentation of colors.

Kelly’s parents, Rose and Howard Kelly as well as his uncle Darrell, made the drive from Lee County Virginia, where they currently live, to attend the ceremony.

&uot;We were informed by the JROTC department not long after Michael’s death of their intentions to have some sort of memorial for Michael and the other students,&uot; Rose Kelly stated.

&uot;About six months ago they informed us that the plan was going to be made a reality and we were very appreciative of their effort. It was overwhelming to say the least.&uot;

The Kelly’s say that they have three grandchildren who have helped them pick up the pieces and move forward after their son’s death.

Rose added, &uot;It is very satisfying that these young men and women will not be forgotten. The fact that it was their peers who pushed for the memorial is very reassuring. Michael loved the time he spent in the ROTC program.&uot;

Howard Kelly wanted to send a message to other students in the area saying, &uot;I really hope that these kids will take the time to reflect on how fragile life is. Something as simple as wearing your seatbelt can be the difference between life and death.&uot;

Other students who names appear on the memorial are: Stephanie Kierson, Clifton Boyd, Re’Nisha Beale, W. Samuel Peele, Brian Lassiter, LaTonya Powell, Kenneth Sellers, Towana Parker, Samantha Perry, Brian K. Stephenson, Lecky Winborne, Ron’Gina Wilder and Tommy Vaughan Jr.

Lassiter, Powell and Parker were also JROTC Cadets.

The memorial encompasses a 14-year span beginning with the passing of Kierson in 1992. In 2004, the only year with multiple entries on the memorial, the high school lost three students to untimely tragedies.