Students and staff members from Pleasant Lea Middle School collaborated with a local artist to create a unique memorial for Scott Wilkinson, a well-respected teacher and coach who passed away last September.
Wilkinson taught industrial technology at PLMS and coached football and girls track at Lee’s Summit High School. After he passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack last fall, school staff members and students wanted to create a lasting memorial to his generosity and strength as well as his teaching and coaching skills.
Several students in Wilkinson’s classes and on his teams, along with his colleagues, began meeting with Lee’s Summit artist Dave Eames last winter. Wilkinson’s fellow teachers and his students shared what was special about the teacher and coach, said Dr. Janette Miller, PLMS principal.
After listening to the students’ and teachers’ thoughts, Eames developed several drawings of potential sculptures. The group selected a design emphasizing Wilkinson’s background growing up in a small town, his work with metal and tools as an industrial technology teacher and his love of athletics through the sculpture’s moving parts.
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The resulting moveable, metal sculpture was installed by the last day of school when it was featured during the PLMS all-school awards assembly. The event included a student-produced video about the sculpture design process and a photo of the finished piece. The video was followed by a presentation by Joe Oswald, PLMS teacher, who talked about Wilkinson and his life.
"It was a meaningful way to honor his memory," Dr. Miller added, "involving a sad - but inspiring - process with students and teachers."
Funding for the memorial sculpture was provided by the school as well as two student organizations: Student Council and Tiger SMART.