Fitch students dedicate a tree to honor a fallen falcon


By Amanda Tonoli

atonoli@vindy.com

AUSTINTOWN

On Monday morning, Fitch High School students planted a tree in memory of fallen fellow Falcon Maddison Pappas, 15, who died unexpectedly March 30.

“It was so beautiful, and Maddison would have been honored,” said Shannon Pappas, Maddison’s mother. “I wish she could see the impact that she’s had on people’s lives.”

High-school students and staff have dedicated several school events to memorialize Maddison since her death. Donna Burnell, family and consumer-science teacher, dedicated one of the cooking pots in the Kritti’s Closet meals program – an effort dedicated to serving students in need – to ease some stress on the Pappas family after the loss of their daughter.

In April, students and staff also participated in Purple Explosion Day to honor Maddison by wearing her favorite color.

Kathy Mock, school board president, said the tree-dedication services at Fitch serve as inspiration and a place of memory for other Falcons, the school’s mascot.

“It’s the right thing to do to celebrate the life of the young people we lost recently,” she said.

Shannon Pappas said she was so thankful to the school district for the dedication.

After the ceremony, she said a student approached her with a heartwarming story about how Maddison’s death inspired her to live.

“[She] said that she had hated life and had pretty much given up, but when Maddison died it made her appreciate her life and made her want to live it,” Shannon Pappas said. “That would mean so much to Maddison. ... She was such an amazing girl, and she had the biggest heart. We love and miss her so, so much every day.”

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