Aniya Jackson, a fourth-grade student at Rocky Plains Elementary, passed away on Feb. 3 after suffering a brain aneurism. The school planted in her memory on the fourth-grade playground. (Special photo)
COVINGTON – Rocky Plains Elementary commemorated the loss of fourth-grader Aniya Jackson by planting a tree on the school’s fourth-grade playground on Tuesday.
Jackson, who died on Feb. 3 after succumbing to a brain aneurism, was known for her friendly personality, caring demeanor and never wanting to be late for school. Her family, friends and the Rocky Plains community are grieving her loss.
“We were stunned,” said Rocky Plains Principal Dr. Miranda Jones. “She was so full of life, so gifted and talented. It’s just such a tragic loss. We are supporting her family the best we know how. We are all family at Rocky Plains and we will get through this as a family.”
The Covington Home Depot branch donated a pink dogwood tree to be planted on the school’s fourth-grade playground in Jackson’s name. Jackson’s parents, family members and classmates each took turns shoveling dirt to help plant the tree.
“We hope this in some way helps her family,” said Covington Home Depot Assistant Manager Steven Hobson. “We at Home Depot are honored to donate a tree in her memory.”
Peter Grier, Jackson’s father, said the school community has been more than supportive.
“We’re just amazed by the support the school has given our family — everything from bringing us food to planting this tree in her honor,” he said. “The support they have given us has gotten us through this. It would have been so hard without them.”
Jackson’s mother, Brenda Grier, recalled her congenial disposition and said, “She touched every teacher and she considered every child her best friend. She was just so full of love. She was truly an angel.”
Even Jackson’s teachers attested to her bright outlook and kind attitude.
“Aniya was amazing. She loved to learn and she was just so good to everybody,” said Jackson’s third-grade teacher Dr. Natalie Ochs. “That’s why it’s been so important to us to help the students transition through this. At this age it’s so hard for them to wrap their head around the fact that she’s not coming back. She was just beyond special.”
Students honored Jackson’s memory by releasing balloons on her birthday, Feb. 27. The balloons were Jackson’s favorite colors — purple and green.
Additionally, a bench in her name is scheduled to be placed on the fourth-grade playground near her tree.
“It was important for us to have a permanent reminder of Aniya,” said Jones. “She was a student at Rocky Plains from kindergarten on and with this tree, her spirit will always be a part of us. She may be gone, but she will never be forgotten. She will always be part of the Rocky Plains family.”