BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — The new Beverly High School opened in 2010, and the old school was demolished in 2011. But three years later, one aspect of the project remains incomplete.
A dozen memorial plaques and stone monuments dedicated to former students, teachers, administrators and military veterans that were on display at the former high school are still in storage, waiting for the day when they will be shown again.
School officials say that day is about to arrive. The School Committee this week approved a plan by Beverly High Principal Sean Gallagher to create a memorial walkway alongside the playing fields outside the high school.
The walkway will include new granite benches, a flagpole, and restored plaques and memorials honoring people who Gallagher said represent “the foundation and the soul of Beverly High School.”
“We’re bringing the memorials back, and we’re going to do it the right way,” he said.
Gallagher said dozens of plaques and memorials were scattered throughout the old high school, both inside and outside. He said 80 percent of them were accounted for and placed in storage, but the rest were lost or destroyed during the demolition.
Gallagher said some of the plaques had apparently been covered up by grass over the years. When school officials found out they had been inadvertently destroyed, he and Assistant Principal Dan Bauer scoured the rubble looking for them.
“We felt so bad,” Gallagher said.
Among the lost memorials was one in honor of Steven Kerr, a popular student-athlete at Beverly High who died in a car accident in 1989. A memorial tree and plaque were dedicated to Kerr in a ceremony in the spring of 1990 near the front entrance of the school.
Cindy Kerr DiLuiso said she was upset when she first noticed that her brother’s memorial had been destroyed. When she contacted Gallagher, he promised he would not forget about Kerr.
This week, Gallagher called DiLuiso and other families to inform them of the plan for the new walkway.
“It actually bought tears to my eyes,” DiLuiso said. “Mr. Gallagher realized how important Steven was in the Beverly High School community and in the Beverly community.”
DiLuiso said awareness of her brother’s memorial apparently became lost during the transition between school administrations over the years.
“Of course Mr. Gallagher didn’t know,” she said. “He felt very bad. But he promised that he would remember Steven. It really felt nice that he hasn’t forgotten.”
The plan is to replace lost or damaged memorials with new granite benches and to repair and reinstall the stored monuments along the walkway.
The walkway will be built between the high school baseball field and the parking lot. As part of the project, a stone-dust walkway will also be installed to provide access to the artificial turf field.
Gallagher said money was set aside for the memorial walkway from the construction of the new high school. School officials are planning to build it and hold a dedication ceremony before the end of the school year.
Gallagher said the walkway will give the memorials more prominence than their previous locations scattered around the school.
“It almost brings their lives back to the forefront on a daily basis,” he said.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.
MEMORIALS AT BEVERLY HIGH
Beverly High School has plaques and memorials in memory of the following people:
Frank “Brother” Roberts
Beverly veterans killed in wars
Victims of Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks