Max’s Park | A chapter closes
TRUCKEE, Calif. andamp;#8212; The pumpkins have passed, Pilgrim hats put away, and the sparkling Christmas season, with tinsel, baubles and visits from Santa, is here.A cherry tree at Glenshire Elementary School glitters in the sun, decorated for a child whose Santa suit is sorely missed: Max Krieg, a beloved GES kindergartner who passed away December 2010.Max’s family started a memorial fund, and it was decided the monies would support Glenshire School, where Max loved to play on the kindergarten playground. The area is now Max’s Park, revamped with a sandbox, a new saucer swing, water feature and a climbing structure.andamp;#8220;I know for Martha, Kurt and Hanna, this is bringing a lot of peace,andamp;#8221; said Terrina Woodard, Max’s kindergarten teacher. A petite woman with a quiet demeanor, Woodard advised children as they spun from the annual GES Eagle Walk onto the geodesic climbing structure. andamp;#8220;We are all spiders, moving slowly on our web, making sure we don’t step on one another.andamp;#8221;Max’s Park has evolved into more than a playground, according to GES Principal Kathleen Gauthier. andamp;#8220;It’s made such an incredible difference; it gives the children the right opportunities, and is used by the community, the grandmas, the grandpas, it’s used just about 24/7,andamp;#8221; said Gauthier.By the same community who donated time, materials and soul to the project. andamp;#8220;We couldn’t have done it without Rob Koster from TTUSD, Eric Bacon, Janet Fike and David Vaille as key players,andamp;#8221; said Woodard. andamp;#8220;And all the daddies who came every Saturday, here doing whatever they were asked to do.andamp;#8221;Although it doesn’t ease the pain from missing Max, and doesn’t bring Max back, the Kriegs are content with the positive change for GES, and Max’s sister Hannah likes it andamp;#8212; it reminds her of Max.andamp;#8220;People took up family time, Saturdays, it means a lot,andamp;#8221; said Max’s mom, Martha Krieg. andamp;#8220;Family time is precious time; the most valued time is spending time together. It just helps, that people care. We are so grateful for that.andamp;#8221;Max was a precocious child, courageous, smart, who embraced GES wholeheartedly.andamp;#8220;He scuffed around in those little blue Crocs, and wore his Santa shirt so freely,andamp;#8221; said Karen Pilaar, a GES kindergarten teacher. andamp;#8220;He is from a family who skied together, boated together, who embedded themselves in this community. He created a memory here, and we will not forget.andamp;#8221;Pilaar and Woodard considered a mural on the playground that represented Max, and as the weeks evolved and research was done, the project grew. Pilaar was concerned that with the Sierra freeze and thaw, the tiles would not last outside. Gauthier approved a sunny, empty space for the tile wall to hang inside GES. Teresa Wik from T-pots Pottery in Truckee offered much advice and donated all of the clay for the project. Janet Feick and Martha Kreig spent hours rolling out clay and cutting tiles in preparation for the young artists. Alanna Hughes donated her studio for this process and the underglaze for the tiles.andamp;#8220;We invited all of Max’s kindergarten classmates and his closest friends down to the workroom to work on a special tile. This was a very special day,andamp;#8221; said Pilaar. andamp;#8220;His sister Hannah started on the first tile and created a paddle board with herself and Max paddling on top andamp;#8230; And so it went, the children sat around the table, fingers smoothing clay, sharing warm memories, creating lasting images.andamp;#8220;The touching stories brought laughter and tears. Every child left with pride and anticipation of how their piece would turn out. The children were all honored to be a part of something so special and relieved to be connected to their friend Max.andamp;#8221;The memorial wall is a joyful thing. All of the tiles were fired at Glenshire in the school kiln. The mural includes a few words that describe young Max’s character. Courageous, peaceful, smart, caring. With the help of David Vaille, tiles were carefully hung just before school started.andamp;#8220;It’s a happy installation that brightens the hall,andamp;#8221; said Pilaar. andamp;#8220;Terrina puts a little kiss on her hand, and touches the wall.andamp;#8221;andamp;#8220;Oh, the wall is awesome, he’d love it,andamp;#8221; said Martha. andamp;#8220;It is all the things he loved and was.andamp;#8221;The Kriegs embodied a loving, supportive, closely-knit family. Pilaar said, andamp;#8220;They are handling his loss as beautifully, as gracefully, as possible.andamp;#8221;Max’s life touched many in this community, and the outpouring of volunteer hours from fathers, mothers and Max’s playmates is a testament to both Max and the spirit of the community.As we usher in the holiday season, a season of light, remember to kiss your children, love them for who they are, and, remember Max.Vaille, contractor for the playground, whose son was in Max’s class, said of the countless labor hours spent creating Max’s Park, andamp;#8220;How could you not?andamp;#8221;
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