HAMBURG, Arkansas (08/13/19) Noble Elementary School in Hamburg lives up to the district-wide motto “Choose Love” in every way. The two letter word isn’t just something for the kids to abide by with their peers, but it’s something every individual in the district tries to demonstrate through acts of courage, gratitude, kindness, forgiveness and compassion.
Staff at the elementary school displayed some of those characteristics over the summer when one of their students died in a fatal fire on July 3. Taylor Makenzie Smith, 7, would have been going to the 2nd grade this year at Noble Elementary.
The school turned that heart-breaking loss into a chance to help the community and Taylor’s family heal. Teachers and staff not only partnered with local businesses and organizations to help pay for Taylor’s funeral but they were able to use the funds to build the Taylor Smith Memorial Rose Garden.
“What happened to our student Taylor was definitely tragic,” School Principal, Angela Maize said. ‘So, we did want something at the school, some type of memorial so that we could have it for years to come.”
The garden features a sculpture of a little girl jumping rope, a rose garden, water fountain and two benches. Taylor’s mother, Rebecca Swires, couldn’t help but stare at the memorial in tears when she saw it for the first time.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “I can’t thank the school enough.”
Swires said even those that didn’t know her or her daughter reached out to the family after Taylor’s death. The school also printed Taylor’s signature on their school’s t-shirts. The above and beyond gesture showed Smith how much the school cares for its student beyond education.
“Our mission is to choose love and we want to provide that in any way that we can,” Evan Tubbs said. “We just thought the garden was a great way to represent that and just a beautiful memory of her.”