Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


October 3, 2012

NDHS plants trees in memorial of two former students

Greensburg — Keshia Boyce and Becca Wessel never knew each other, but Tuesday morning, outside the main entrance of North Decatur High School (NDHS), the two girls were forever joined in the hearts and memories of those who knew and loved them.

A chilly Autumn mist lingered beneath a gray October sky as NDHS students, staff, faculty, administrators and parents gathered for the formal dedication of twin trees planted in memory of the girls, both of whom died far too young, both in car accidents.

Anita Wessel, Becca’s mother, stood before the gathering and spoke about the ways in which people in life are akin to trees.

Some people, she contended, are like leaves, because they are “there to take what they need and as soon as it gets cold or a wind blows in your life, they are gone.”

Wessel compared other people to branches. Those people, she said, are stronger than leaves, but are still apt to break away during a storm.

“You have to test them out before you run out there and put all your weight on them.”

Root people, Wessel concluded, are the most special type of people in life.

“They’re hard to find,” she said, “because they are not trying to be seen. Their only job is to hold you up and help you live a strong and healthy life. If you thrive, they are happy. If you go through an awful storm, they will hold you up.”

Wessel challenged her audience to be more appreciative of the people who serve as “roots” in life and for each person to seriously consider what role they play in the lives of others: Leaf, branch or root?

Afterward, NDHS seniors from the class of 2013 — Becca’s graduating class — formed lines behind each tree, each scooping a shovelful of dirt before offering a hug and words of condolence and encouragement to Wessel and her surviving daughter, Rachel.

Born March 8, 1988, Keshia Boyce was a 16-year-old NDHS student when, on Dec. 15, 2004, she swerved to avoid an animal in the road and was killed.

Born June 13, 1995, Becca Wessel was a 15-year-old NDHS student when, while riding as a passenger, she was killed in a crash on County Road Northeast 80.

Although the two girls never knew each other, Wessel told the Daily News that she and Boyce’s father, Tony, went to school together.

“After Becca died,” Wessel explained, “Tammy [Boyce] was a great help to me. We got together over the holidays and laughed and cried together. It’s difficult for parents who haven’t lost a child to truly understand what it’s like, but Tammy and I will always share that bond. She’s been a great help to me through the grief.”

Wessel likened the grief from such a loss to alcohol or drug dependence.

“Once you’re an alcoholic,” she said, “you’re always an alcoholic. Even if you go through the program and get sober, the craving, the need never completely goes away; that’s what the grief of losing a child is like. You learn to live with it, but it’ll never truly go away.”

NDHS principal Gary Cook said the school has wanted to do a memorial of some type for Boyce for years.

“This day was long in coming,” he said. “With all the construction we’ve undergone in the last few years, we could never put anything together. We were too unsure where we could build a memorial or plant a tree. Once we got something up, it was conceivable that a change in construction plans could have forced us to tear it down or uproot it. It just wasn’t practical.”

Becca Wessel’s younger sister, Rachel, who was in seventh grade when her sister died, recalled Becca being adamantly in favor of a memorial for Keshia Boyce.

“She’d be shocked to see this day actually happen,” Rachel said. “At one point, Keshia’s family and the school discussed putting in a fountain, but Becca didn’t think it would ever happen; nobody did. After Becca died, I guess it was a lot tougher for the school to say ‘no’ to two families.”

“Becca would be extremely humbled by this,” Anita Wessel added. “To see all these people out here today who care enough to do this in her memory.”

Wessel works as the head cook at NDHS, but said she’s never considered switching schools or changing careers.

“I suppose a lot of people wouldn’t be able to come back here, to walk these halls and interact with the teachers and students that Becca interacted with daily. But it’s the opposite for me. These kids have been a lifeline. Being here in this building, with these people, has helped me feel connected to my daughter. That’s what Charger family is all about. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. ”


Text Only
  • fea-gb081414 Paddle own canoe jpg Indiana at 200: 'Paddle Your Own Canoe' James Whitcomb Riley was the most acclaimed, but he wasn’t the first Hoosier poet to gain national fame. Sarah T. Bolton deserves that honor. Even today her poem “Paddle Your Own Canoe” is cited and recited, though few know anything about its origins

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • nws-gb081314-Shelter Spotlight pic 1 (Pics Share A Cutline) Shelter Spotlight: Gema and Lotus GREENSBURG – Another week brings more animals currently housed at the Greensburg/Decatur County Animal Shelter in need of loving permanent homes.This week, the Daily News presents Gema, a sweet 12-week-old terrier mix. Shelter workers are not certain

    August 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • fea-gb080714 Spaulding column jpg Whitetail deer in velvet, dove hunt draws Antlers have fascinated man since the beginning of time. Going back thousands of years, mans’ fascination for “animals with antlers” are found etched and painted on the walls of caves. Before modern civilization, antlers were used to make tools, cere

    August 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • nws-gb080614-Shelter Spotlight pic 1 (Pics share a cutline) Shelter Spotlight: Herbie and Jerret GREENSBURG – Another week brings more animals currently housed at the Greensburg/Decatur County Animal Shelter in need of loving permanent homes.This week, the Daily News presents Herbie and Jerret. Herbie is a pug mix. He is a very sweet puppy and g

    August 6, 2014 2 Photos

  • nws-gb080114 Earth Talk pic Ocean Debris Dear EarthTalk: Recent news coverage of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 reminded us all again of how much debris, including plastic, is in our oceans. To what extent is this a real problem that threatens ocean or human health? -- M

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • nws-gb073114 Indiana at 200 Canals pic 1 Indiana at 200: Fleeting canal era had lasting impact In 1825, the Erie Canal was completed with great fanfare. Cannon fire, parades, balls and speeches celebrated the speed and skill with which New Yorkers built “the longest canal in the world,” as one eyewitness erroneously called it. (The Grand Canal

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • nws-gb073014-Shelter Spotlight pic 1 (Pics share a cutline) Shelter Spotlight: Macy and Merle GREENSBURG – Another week brings more animals currently housed at the Greensburg/Decatur County Animal Shelter in need of loving permanent homes.This week, the Daily News presents Macy and Merle. Macy is a sweet, loving and beautiful kitten. She is a

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • fea-gb072914 Book Review jpg "Dozer's Run: A True Story of a Dog and His Race" How much do you like to jump?If you’re like most kids, you’d do it right now if you could. You also like to run and explore which, unfortunately, can get you into trouble sometimes.And that’s not all. Running when you shouldn’t, could get you lost –

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • fea-gb072414 Indiana limestone jpg 2 Indiana at 200: The Fame of Indiana Limestone It is one of Indiana’s best-kept secrets. Limestone quarried from three Indiana counties is responsible for some of America’s most impressive structures. It was used to build the Empire State Building, the Pentagon and the Indiana State Capitol. It b

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Review: The Illusionists by Rosie Thomas Now you see it. Now you don’t.The magician’s coin jumps from hand to hat and though you’re astounded, that would be an easy trick to learn. You could research, and know how he made an elephant disappear. You could teach yourself how to conjure the ri

    July 22, 2014