CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. -- Shenendehowa High School dedicated its memorial garden Wednesday in honor of four students who passed away before graduating, three of whom would have graduated in three weeks.
It took six months for the memorial garden to be completed. It started as just a drawing, but with the help of family members and students, the vision came to fruition.
The families of Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers, the teens killed in the 2012 Northway crash, unveiled the plaque that now sits in the middle of the garden reading "while in this garden, may you be filled with their love and peace".
"These are the things that are getting us through a really tough year," said Mike Stewart, Chris Stewart's father.
"They say you're part of the group now," added Debbie Rivers, Deanna Rivers's mother. "We just all came together."
But the Stewart and Rivers families were not alone in their efforts to rennovate the garden. In addition to Chris and Deanna, the garden also commemorates Nick Cammarata and Luke Romano, who died of cancer in 2008 and 2011, respectively.
"The circumstances were different for our families," said Annette Romano. "Yet the loss is great."
"It helps all of us," added Janine Cammarata. "Because it's these milestones that make it so difficult."
The four families worked together on the project and included a plaque that reads "You have not been forgotten".
As the dedication ceremony closed with song and balloons being released, the families' intent for the garden was reached: to keep the memory of their children alive.
"In a matter of two weeks, we were able to dig out the old and put in the new," said Stewart. "The students get all the credit. They're the ones who keep us going from day to day."
"It's just a wonderful, warm feeling to know there are this many people out there that are not forgetting Chris, Deanna and the other families affected," added Brian Rivers.
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