By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — A new tree grows at Pinkerton Academy, honoring the memory of a beloved coach, teacher and friend.
A sugar maple was planted last week in the school’s Memorial Garden to honor the memory of Ralph Van Nostrand, longtime Pinkerton coach and staff member who died earlier this year.
Members of Van Nostrand’s family, administrators and other Pinkerton staff gathered at the garden to help secure the tree.
The Memorial Garden has been a fixture at Pinkerton since 2002, when school trustees decided to plan an area where staff, alumni and friends could be remembered through a memorial paver brick, a tree or a bench.
Since then, the garden has grown to include perennials, a walkway with memorial names engraved in stone and a gazebo where people can gather for quiet reflection.
“It’s been growing,” Pinkerton spokeswoman Anne Parker said. “It’s a nice, quiet little spot for reflection, a nice way to honor loved ones.”
Parker said the garden is not only growing in popularity, but in the number of plantings that are being placed to honor someone.
There are several sugar maples near the spot where Van Nostrand’s tree is now growing, many benches line the grassy yard and engraved pavers are lining the walkway leading to the gazebo.
Parker encouraged anyone to contact the Alumni Office if interested in honoring a special person with a paver, bench, tree or other marker.
Alumni can gather to honor a classmate, a favorite teacher or parents who attended Pinkerton. The list is long of ways to honor people, Parker said.
During the ceremony, Headmaster Mary Anderson told Van Nostrand’s family it was nice to have a special place to come sit, be peaceful and honor those who have died.
She said the garden area is popular for photo requests, too.
Sue Van Nostrand said her husband’s first job at Pinkerton was near where the new tree is growing.
She said planting a tree in memory of her husband was fitting as he always reached high to help others.
“I love trees, too, so it’s my thing,” she said.
Pinkerton Academy’s soccer team is spending one day every other week at Van Nostrand’s home to help with yard work as part of a team community spirit project.