Story of the Rock
By Jim Farrell
Assistant Principal, Grade 9
This is the story of a rock.
Not just any rock, mind you, but a special rock, a rock that when the sun rose one morning was on its back surrounded by leaves as it was largely ignored behind a house and when the sun set the next night was standing upright, freshly painted in red, yellow and green and surrounded by hundreds of people, who were crying and singing and holding candles.
This is the story of Malvrick’s rock.
The story starts on a Saturday afternoon, a few days after Malvrick died. A bunch of students gathered at MHS to plan his vigil. A few adults attended, too, including teachers Katelyn Clancy and Carol Wengertsman. Katelyn had Malvrick in language arts class, and like so many was distraught when he died. Carol had never met Malvrick, but she knew of him, she told me later, “because of his clothes and his smile.” Carol came to the meeting to see if she could help but mostly she was worried about how Katelyn was holding up.
Everyone assumed during the meeting that the vigil would take place around a rock in the senior parking lot that had been the site of a gathering 16 months earlier for Jon Scribner, an MHS senior who died in a late-summer accident.
But Malvrick was just a freshman, and we all agreed it would be nice if his vigil could be outside the Freshmen Center.
But there was no rock out there, nothing to gather around.
That’s when Carol spoke up.
“There’s a pretty big rock in my yard,” she said, adding that she had a relative with a truck that could move it.
We were all intrigued, but Carol wasn’t sure if the rock was big enough so I agreed to follow her home to check it out. The students, meanwhile, planned to paint the rock on Sunday, and we assured them we would either have a “new” rock outside the FC or they would be able to paint the “old” rock in the senior lot.
Well, Carol’s rock was just fine, and at noon the next day we met back at MHS, with the rock in the back of a truck driven by her son-in-law Brett — who works at Main Street Auto in East Hartford — and his son Anthony.
The girls showed up an hour later – some of them just come from church – and applied a coat of black paint, taking turns holding the brush as they shivered in the cold.
Our building and grounds crew came by Monday morning, using a backhoe to anchor the rock more securely in the ground, and surrounded it with a collar of white stone. Then the girls went back out at lunchtime Monday, adding rings of color and Malvrick’s name – which features the black star from the flag of Ghana in place of the ‘V.’
And a few hours later, the rock was a shrine.
I share this story because it offers one example of the way people came together in the aftermath of Malvrick’s death to honor him and support each other. There have been many, many other examples, and will be many more.
I think Malvrick would like the story of his rock. I know it would make him smile.