The family of a teen who died in 2003 from a rare form of pediatric cancer was shocked to find the memorial tree they visited for years in her honor, now a construction site outside West Chicago Community High School.
“She doesn’t have a grave site, so that was (the) place we went to honor her memory,” said the mother, Lee Ann Meiborg.
Amanda Meiborg was diagnosed with the cancer during her high school years and died about a year a half later at the age of 19.
Her family had purchased a tree and plaque to place outside the school and for nearly 15 years they often visited the tree, especially on important dates such as birthdays and holidays.
Meiborg said it was earlier this month when she arrived at the site to find the tree had been uprooted to make way for a major construction project.
“I kinda think I slammed on (the) brakes, yelled no… pulled over and started to cry,” she recalled.
She says she understands the tree was too big to be moved but wishes the district had contacted her sooner. She instead, decided to reach out to the principal and superintendent but never got a response.
The district issued a statement saying, “while we have been the grateful recipients of many class gifts and memorials in the 93-year history of our building, it would be costly to the taxpayers to preserve them all indefinitely, and therefore impossible to do so. Our hearts go out to Ms. Meiborg and family and countless friends as they mourn Amanda’s loss and search for another memorial location.”
Meiborg says it’s disheartening to read the statement, especially because she says the family always loved the school. Their daughter was actually one of the valedictorians of the Class of 2002.
The school board president later apologized for the school’s oversight and insensitivity, reiterating that the board will evaluate how memorials are handled in the future.
One of Amanda Meiborg’s best friends has already set up an online fundraiser in hopes of establishing another memorial.