The Meaning behind Our Memorials

The Blue and White took the time to explore the meaning and history behind the monuments on campus. It’s important to make sure we don’t forget their origin. We recognized important places like the PTSA wall down by the football field (sometimes used to commemorate loved ones), the blue darter by the cafeteria, memorials of those who have passed during their time at Apopka High School, and the plans for the old darter statue that are slowly being forgotten. The Blue and White interviewed Mr. Heinz, freshmen Christina Marloy, and Junior Kedrick Gray for their opinions, and what it means to them.

Memorial Of Beloved Brandie Howard

Unfortunately, not all of the memorials are for happy memories. Brandie Howard was a student who was loved by everyone. Sadly, she passed away in a car accident at seventeen in 2014 during her time at Apopka High School. You can find her memorial next to the 400 building. Kedrick Gray, a junior at AHS, gave his perspective on the Darter statue next to the cafeteria and the tombstones on campus. “I believe The Blue Darter statue holds the legacy of the ones before us and the ones to come and is the symbol of our academic prowess. I mean honestly I never really paid too much attention to it. I believe that if there’s a monument of a person that died at the school, I believe that it shouldn’t be publicized because it basically highlights their death. The high schoolers that go to this school don’t have any acknowledgment of the person that has died, so them having monuments here is kind of mocking them in a way because they died here.”

Freshman Christina Marloy also gave her personal opinion, “So far the statue doesn’t have much meaning to me, but I imagine it’s used to set an expectation of success and to focus on your work. It makes the school feel more surreal when you’re in your own world and see it, then you realize you have to work for your future.”

In the interview with Mr. Heinz, he gave us some background as to when the monuments originated starting with the blue darter next to the cafeteria.“It’s made of pretty solid material, so it shows the strength, it shows the pride we have in our school. I believe that [it is] a good representation of what we do. We have pride in our school, a strong community, and it’s got its wings spread [as if] it were soaring to new heights, as I used many times. It represents many things, and most of all the pride in our school.”

When asked about the small tombstone found on campus he explained what they are and how he felt about them. “There are a few stones in the courtyard mostly that have been either staff members or students that passed away during their time period at Apopka High School. That’s not something we carry on anymore. Research now shows that those memorials shouldn’t be in the middle of the campus, but somewhere off a beaten path where, if you want to go pay respects, you walk to it specifically rather than walk by it every day. So, we don’t add any new ones. We haven’t decided if we’re going to move those or not. It’s a conversation to be had, but the stones that I’m aware of are representative of staff or students who have unfortunately passed during their time period at Apopka High School.”

The Apopka Alumni Invinstionary

Our oldest monument was made 45 years ago! The class of 1976 sponsored a fundraiser to make a darter statue with a fountain. This Darter Statue stood until it was torn down in 2009. Unfortunately, the plans for a new part of the school that was rebuilt did not include a place for it anymore. You can see remnants of a small pond where ducks and birds now claim it as their home next to the student parking lot. Mr. Heinz gave his knowledge of what he knows even though he was not the principal during this time. 

“For the pond, out by the 1600 building [it was] originally at the front of the school before they rebuilt this school in 2006-2008. So similar to the darter in front of the cafeteria that everybody gets to see, that was a darter that was in the middle of the pond. It is no longer in that pond, it has been removed by the Apopka Alumni Association to be restored a little bit and we’re still working on some details of what to do with it next. They’re trying to raise some money to put it up as a statue, and do those things so that process is in place. I believe it was originally built by an Apopka High School graduate but I would have to do some research and see what information I can find.”

Mr. Heinz went on to explain the memorial wall by the football field, “[For some background information on] the wall next to the football field, it was actually put up by the PTSA several.. several years ago; it was a fundraiser where the families that were dedicated to Apopka High School athletics [and Apopka Highs School PTSA members] could purchase a brick through the PTSA. Those bricks that were purchased were then used with their names on them to build the wall, as that was a fundraiser situation for people that wanted to be represented and show their support through Apopka High School by purchasing a brick. As the wall got built it kind of slowed in interest so we finalized it and closed out the account. There were a few bricks put in by the PTSA after I had got here as assistant principal several years ago before. All other statues and memorials things been in place prior to my 10 years as the principal, so I don’t really have a feeling of when they went up, but like I said the darter bird down by the cafeteria represents the pride we have in our school. when you see those you should feel proud. The Agriculture department is doing a good job, now they have some grass around it and they’ve had flowers in the past. They’re trying to make it look respectable and show that we have pride in what we do here in Apopka highschool. Even the wall out there enhances the entrance to the stadium to show that we have pride in our facilities, pride in our school, pride in our staff, pride in the Apopka high school, and the Apopka community.”

The Apopka Alumni Association is working on raising money for the old statue to be put back into the school and renovated started in 2020. Due to COVID-19, this project has been at a standstill. If you would like to contribute, you can visit this link!