Tree Honors Haynes Student

Haynes ES tree dedication
By: Todd Martin
In memory of a child whose inner strength seemed to grow as her physical body faded, a group of family members joined educators at Haynes Elementary School to dedicate a tree with heart-shaped leaves in her memory.
Victor and Vivienne Robinson, parents of Naomi Robinson expressed gratitude to their late daughter’s teachers, who grew to be like family when the 10-year-old grew ill and a brief remission faded.
Naomi Robinson passed away Nov. 21 of last year. She attended Haynes Elementary School in Killeen from kindergarten through fifth grade.
The school dedicated a newly-planted redbud tree at the front of the building and placed a small plaque in front of it in memory of the courageous child.
A small group of teachers who taught Naomi, along with Principal Angela Donovan and the Robinsons gathered Thursday for a touching ceremony where they released purple balloons in memory.
Two teachers, who continued to meet with Naomi when she was homebound last fall, spoke of the student’s inner strength and her parents’ strong faith and welcoming spirits even in the most difficult times.
“She was such a good example of faith,” said teacher Stephanie Vantine. “Her parents have such faith. They were thankful for the time they had with her. They were so kind.”
Teacher Kimberly Bennett agreed that the child’s parents generously provided the educators precious time with their daughter, who didn’t want to stop schooling even in the midst of her battle with bone cancer.
A pain in her leg last summer led to the diagnosis and amputation, then a period of remission that proved brief, family and friends recalled.
“I’m just thankful for the family for sharing their daughter,” Bennett said. “She had such a positive attitude and such a beautiful smile through it all.”
“We’re honored they would honor her,” said Victor Robinson following the ceremony outside the school. “We are grateful for the staff at Haynes for their part in her life and for the tree that honors her.”
Several teachers noted that the girl was shy at first, but once she was convinced of one’s good intentions she opened up and offered her friendship easily and sweetly.
“We wanted a memorial to her,” Donovan said, “and thought about a tree and her parents liked the idea.” The school’s PTA funded the tree and plaque.
Teachers chose the quotation of unknown authorship etched on the plaque: “There is no footprint too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.”
“She was a light,” said Vantine, “always brave, always laughing. I’m completely honored. It was such a growing experience to know her, to be her teacher.”