OPHS hosts memorial for late military alumni

Brian Wolverton memorial held at the school

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Zoey Mortazavi , News Editor

On Friday April 22, Oak Park High School students held a memorial service for the late Brian Wolverton, a 2006 alumni who was lost in combat in Afghanistan in 2009. 

An active member of OPHS track and field while enrolled at the school, the memorial for Brian featured musical performances by student pianist Alexandra Wang and the OPHS wind ensemble. Speeches and a digital slideshow organized by Asheesh Yadav were also prepared for the event. The displays of remembrance aimed to shed light on who he was beyond the memorial that has since been erected for him at the front of the school.

“The memorial was intended to remind students of the sacrifice of a person just like themselves,” English teacher Kathleen Schultheis said. “It was meant to infuse in them a desire to preserve Brian Wolverton’s memory, and never forget.”

This event was organized by Schultheis and her students, namely Rachel Driggs, Andrew Hearst and Adee Shwartz. They rehearsed continually for weeks in order to prepare the service for Brian’s family, taking care to include aspects of his personality in their display. These students worked with Schultheis in order to better understand the nature of Brian’s sacrifice in preparing speeches for him.

“Everyone that knew Brian always says that he was an amazing and kind spirit who brightened every room he entered,” Shwartz said. “That’s the reason we decided to hold this memorial for him – to remember not just his sacrifice, but the life he lived and all the hearts he touched.” 

The event even brought personal attention to Brian’s favorite things and his culture — for example, following a Japanese tradition, the students preparing his service folded one thousand paper cranes in his memory. In addition, Roman Leith made lemon bars, one of Brian’s favorites, to hand out at the end of his ceremony — yet another personal touch to the memorial service.

The students preparing this event put in care and effort in order to honor Brian, his family and the Oak Park community.

“I’m so glad that so many people came out for this. I can say now with complete confidence that Brian is dearly missed all around the community,” Hearst said. “It shows how alive his memory is that we can all gather together and reminisce on the effect he had on the world.”