Students launch fundraiser to build memorial garden

Students launch fundraiser to build memorial garden »Play Video
The south courtyard at SEHS

EUGENE, Ore. - It was a heartbreaking loss that rocked the South Eugene High School community almost two years ago.

"What happened after Jack and Connor passed away was amazing and I honestly think I'll never ever see anything like it again," said student Walker Daniel.

Students Jack Harnsongkram and Connor Ausland drowned on the Oregon Coast in February 2011.

"For a community of 1,800 kids to come together and so many tears were shared, but then on top of that, we built a community," said Daniel.

Months after their passing a group of students formed the Positive Change Club to keep the feeling of community alive.

They thought of ways to create positive vibes around the school, and landed on the idea of turning a rundown courtyard in the middle of campus, into a memorial.

"This garden is dedicated in part to Jack and Connor, but we also want it to be more than that, a positive place, a fun place," said student Greg Gaffney-Bills.

Over the past six months the club has been organizing and designing the layout of the Positive Change Memorial Courtyard. Digging up dirt and concrete and preparing the space.

"Even though we've had over 1,000 hours of volunteer time, now we actually have to start building stuff and we need money," said parent coordinator Wendy Strgar.

Their goal: to raise $20,000 in 30 days on kickstarter.com.

"It's a lot for high school kids to wrap their minds around but honestly with all the people that this project has touched, I think it's totally doable," said Gaffney-Bills.

The students have already raised $5,000 through sales of t-shirts and bracelets. But their Kickstarter campaign officially launched on Wednesday. People can simply donate to the project or pay to be a piece of the courtyard.

"We'll have memory pavers, people can dedicate the fountain, there's so many different ways you can give," said Strgar.

When it's complete, the courtyard will feature a fountain, gardens and a 50-foot long mural designed by a former student.

"I just want this place to to be somewhere where we can withhold and keep that, those smiles and those tears and everything that we shared two years ago," said Daniel.

If they raise their goal amount, they hope to have the courtyard completed by the end of the 2012 school year.