On Dec. 14, 2009, beloved K. C. Heffernan Elementary School school nurse Kris Parrish passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. On Dec. 14, 2010 the K. C. Heffernan (KCH) Elementary School educational community joined together with an all school assembly in celebration of, and dedication to, the inspirational spirit of Kris Parrish.
Gary Bissaillon, KCH principal, welcomed students and staff to the special dedication, followed by second grade teacher Lisa MacLachlan, who introduced Kris's son Mark Gallagher. Kris's daughters Nicole and Jenny were unable to attend the ceremony as they were out of town, but Gallagher shared the heartfelt appreciation of the entire Parrish family.
"My family and I could not have made it through the years leading up to my mother's passing without the support of the school ... your cards, your notes and most of all the day of caroling in our front yard meant so much to our mother and to all of us," Gallagher said.
Mark encouraged the student audience to be like his mother, and "give the gift of a smile, particularly to those in need."
Fran Hagan, KCH art teacher, then came to the microphone and expressed the central theme and meaning of the dedication.
"We thought about what we could do to honor Mrs. Parrish at this dedication. Mrs. Parrish was beautiful and she was an artist, so we thought that we would make something beautiful and artistic in her memory," Hagan said. She then called Mark Gallagher forward to help unveil a stained glass memorial she had created in reflection of Kris' passion for life.
Hagan explained that the stained glass creation reflected the things that were important to Kris in her life: The sanctuary of Kris' camp on Lake Ontario; Irises, Kris' favorite flower; and Kris' passion for painting. Of special importance were the "dedication stones" that framed the stained glass scene. Hagan shared that the stones were contributed in memory of Kris, by Kris's colleagues and friends in the KCH community. Among those stones was a heart shaped stone found along the shores of Lake Ontario by Kris's friend Mary Tone.