Jordan Kim, a former Gladstone Elementary student who passed away just over a year ago from aplastic anemia, a type of cancer, was honored by friends, family, and members of the Cranston school community during a special gathering at the school on April 28.
Many in attendance were sporting #JordanStrong t-shirts in his honor, as a special Buddy Bench and custom rock garden area were dedicated in his name, and a book was added to the school library in his honor as well.
Principal Susan Buonanno welcomed all who gathered together and thanked everyone for their combined efforts in creating such a beautiful spot for the students and families to sit and reflect. She spoke about Jordan and his presence in the school during his time there.
“Jordan fought a long battle and unfortunately lost that battle with cancer last spring,” she said. “He was an excellent student and a strong part of our Gladstone School community. Today’s celebration is to honor him and to dedicate this Buddy Bench in honor of him. This bench will be used by the students to sit and enjoy a book, just like Jordan did on a regular basis. The book dedication is by Warren Hanson and it’s called ‘The Next Place.’ This book will be dedicated to the Gladstone library for students that have lost a family member or suffered the loss of a loved one. They’ll be able to check that book out, read it and take it on the bench.”
Buonanno noted the following people and organizations who were instrumental in making the garden and bench a reality: A. Sciolto and Son Monuments, Grace Swinski, Aramark, Gladstone PTG, Gladstone faculty and staff, including ‘Nurse Pam’ and her husband and teacher Sue Sullivan, Cranston Police Department, Cranston School Committee and Domenic Fusco, CPS Central Administration’s Roxanne Gustafson, Mayor Allan Fung, the New England Laborers International Union of North America, Michael Traficante, Kidventure, Dennis Conte from the Department of Public Works, and Councilman Paul Archetto. Swinski, who is a next-door neighbor of the Kim family, was grateful for how quickly the $2,400 needed was raised by all involved and for all who donated to the cause. Fusco agreed, and stated that an email he sent to his colleagues received instant replies and funds were donated, land was cleared, cement was poured, and the work needed was done.
“This was truly a community effort,” he said. “It’s nice to see something good come out of something so sad.”
Kim’s family, including his mother Lynn, grandmother Phonady, and siblings Olivia, Sincere and Hailey were all on hand for the event, as was Jordan’s friend Mateo Goldman, a fourth-grader from Brookline, Massachusetts, who was also a patient at Boston Children’s Hospital. Goldman contributed his own painted rock to the rock garden done by Kim’s classmates.
Jordan’s mother knew that Jordan would have loved the event in his honor. “I wanted to thank everyone that took part in this bench,” she said. “Jordan would have been so proud and so happy. Jordan has touched so many lives and impacted so many people. He may not be here with us, but we are all JordanStrong.”