One Year Later: How Should We Honor Mrs. Johnson?

By Katrina Schell, Performing Arts Division Head. Photo found here.

The way in which LCA’s community should honor Mrs. Johnson’s memory is currently up for debate. Mrs. Johnson, a beloved teacher, friend, wife, and mother, passed away last year on November 2, a day the school spent raking neighbor’s leaves in a time of service. This year, leaf raking day falls on the one year anniversary of her death, and the administration is unsure how best to approach the situation. Members of the student body have rallied around it as the day that best reflects who Mrs. Johnson was and what she would have wanted for our community.

Mrs. Johnson will be remembered by all her students as a kind, loving, nurturing soul. Her guidance in class inspired passion in all of her students, and challenged many to improve their character and see life from a different perspective. Compounding her unquestionable teaching abilities was her brotherly love; Mrs. Johnson cared about every student that walked through her door, and she held everyone special in her heart. Mrs. Johnson faithfully ran the good race, speaking openly about her faith, and was a light to the world in innumerable ways. Most importantly, she was a good and faithful servant.

Recognizing the lack of giving back in the LCA community all those years ago, Mrs. Johnson founded the Helping Our World club, which has gained a considerable legacy over the years. She taught her students the meaning of joyful service, and organized events to give generously to the world around us. Notably, Mrs. Johnson created leaf raking day. Many students feel the best way to honor Mrs. Johnson’s memory is allowing HOW to follow her example and continue the tradition of her favorite day. However, the administration is not fully on board.

Given that Mrs. Johnson passed only a year ago, the pain of loss still resounds strongly in our hearts. The majority of the school had a personal connection with Mrs. Johnson whether or not she taught them, and the only class that did not experience her presence is the sixth grade class. The administration believes that the best way to honor Mrs. Johnson is with an all-school chapel in which the community can reflect on her loss and process their grief in a safe and loving environment. While this plan would serve as a tribute to her life and legacy, leaf raking day may perhaps serve as a more fitting and sustainable tradition.

In six years, Mrs. Johnson will have not taught a single student at LCA. Her memory will live strong in the hearts of graduates and colleagues, but a recurring chapel about Mrs. Johnson will not be understood by the majority of the future school. Leaf raking day, on the other hand, will serve as a long-lasting tribute to Mrs. Johnson’s favorite day of the year, and a reminder of her faithful service to Christ and humanity. Much like a dedicated memorial run, leaf raking day will bear Mrs. Johnson’s legacy, and it will be more impactful to those who both did and did not know her, while also using the day to embrace her legacy of joyful service. 

It is possible to use November 2nd as a time of grief as well as honor Mrs. Johnson’s memory at the same time; one proposal stands to have both a chapel and leaf raking day, inviting Mrs. Johnson’s family, church, and community to attend. This way, there is a solemn and respectful time of reflection for those working through grief, but also a chance to remember a woman of faithful service through her favorite activity.

The choice we make on November 2nd this year will set a precedent. If we skip leaf raking day, even for a year, we run the risk of forgetting the wonderful service activity Mrs. Johnson founded and adored every year. But by allowing a few years of a reflective chapel service followed by leaf raking, we allow a peaceful and safe space for processing grief, and we honor Mrs. Johnson’s memory in the way many believe she would have wanted.