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A school commemoration is intended to bring closure to a period of grieving and serves as a point from which to move on. A trauma informed approach will assure that all students and staff can return to their focus of learning and teaching. Prior to any commemorative activities or events occurring in any of the Phelps-Clifton Springs buildings, a Commemoration Request Form must be completed and submitted to the Superintendent for review by the Commemoration Committee.


Commemorations should reflect the multifaceted needs of the school community; balancing the needs of the moment (to remember and comfort), with the needs of the many (to heal and return to daily living and learning) and the needs over time (to consider precedents being set) while being respectful to the deceased individual and their family.

For each commemoration, it is important to think about the precedent that is being set and the long-term implications:

  • Can the commemoration be equitable to all future deaths or circumstances?
  • Will the commemoration be a secondary trigger of grief or trauma to the members of the school community?
  • Does the commemoration support the TIG lens of returning the school community to normal routines and support the “needs of the many?”

It is recommended that:

  • Commemorations will be permitted for students/staff who were enrolled/employed at the time of death.
  • The commemoration should wait until the immediate impact of the loss has subsided but occur before the opening of the next school year.
  • If a temporary location for commemoration is established (i.e. student's locker or desk), specify time limits (1 week) and that items left will be offered to the family.
  • Allow student and staff opportunities to attend services within the community.
  • Within the classroom, activities that address the loss will be conducted as is developmentally appropriate, with the support of the building crisis team.

The Midlakes Commemoration Committee will review all proposed commemorations in memory of a student or staff member, whether the student or staff member is deceased or alive. Furthermore, the Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District reserves the right to accept or reject any and all commemorations donated or purchased in memory, or to honor a student or staff member. Furthermore, any existing commemoration in existence at the time these guidelines are adopted, whether in compliance with these guidelines or not, may be removed ten years after the death of the students/staff member involved and offered to the family.  All commemorations will be privately funded.

Suggested options include:

  1. Purchase of library books, school supplies and equipment, with the approval of the building administrator. Donated books may include a bookplate and equipment may include an engraved plate not larger than two by six inches. Wording on the plates will be limited to “Donated in Memory of” or “In Memory of” and the student/staff member’s legal name and year of donation. Any engraved plate other than bookplates will be removed at the end of ten years and offered to the family.
  2. Contributions by students/staff to memorials designated by the family, i.e. Cancer Society, MADD, local charities, etc.
  3. Scholarships established in the names of students/staff

Unacceptable commemorations include those which may:

  • Violate state and federal guidelines (for example Title IX federal guidelines).
  • Contradict the Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District’s policies and/or mission.
  • Significantly alter the conduct of a regular school instructional day.
  • Significantly alter school activities or the school activities schedule.
  • Require the retirement or discontinued use of school property. This may include such items as monuments, statues, benches, etc.
  • Infringe on the separation of church and state.
  • Require the use of public funds for purchase, development or maintenance beyond the normal care and maintenance of school properties.
  • Any item that is permanently affixed to the building (i.e. plaques).
  • Function as a “moving memorial” (i.e. t-shirts, wristbands, buttons, bumper stickers).
  • Depict any items with a photo of the deceased (with the exception of the Yearbook, see below).
  • Portray any other item which the Commemoration Committee determines is not in alignment with the spirit of the guidelines or appropriate for the situation being considered.

Yearbook Guidelines

  1. Appropriate recognition may be designated within the yearbook for all students/staff members who have died during that school year.  The deceased student/staff member will have a picture of the same size, located in the same place and order within the yearbook. "In memoriam" will be added under the student/staff member’s legal name. In the case of a senior, the other information submitted for the senior may be included (i.e. nickname, favorite memory, extra curricular activities, quote).
  2. If there is a death after the printing of the yearbook and the student has not graduated, the student’s picture may appear in the next year’s yearbook with “In memoriam” added under the student/staff member’s legal name. If the student was enrolled in high school, the student’s picture may appear in the anticipated graduation year’s yearbook upon consultation with the student’s family.
  3. A deceased student/staff member’s picture, if available, may be included with the pictures of other students/staff in the class for the year covered by the yearbook.


  1. Graduation is a time to recognize the many years of work and achievement of the senior class.
  2. Any students who die during their senior year may be acknowledged at graduation (with parent and administrative approval) prior to the conferring of diplomas for the graduating class.
  3. If a posthumous diploma is to be awarded, the name should be read and the diploma presented by a staff member to the family. The family shall sit in a designated area for the presentation. Students should not be involved in the presentation.
  4. In the case of any students who have died during their high school career, their parent/guardian may request that they be acknowledged in a private ceremony prior to graduation.

Notice of Address Change

Family members of deceased students/staff members are encouraged to inform the school of any address changes so that the District may return any commemorations to them.

Additional Resource

â–ºCommemoration Request Form