SLR honored by teachers with plaque

Scott Lawrence-Richards was a beloved English teacher and role model at the high school, loved by teachers and students throughout the Cedar Falls school district. He had three unyielding battles with cancer and passed away earlier this year. Lawrence-Richards possesed passion for writing and had a way with words. He inspired many with his poems, especially with his poem about life in Cedar Falls, called “Spring Thaw.” The poem touches on and reminds us why people live in Cedar Falls. The poem emphasizes the beauty of the Cedar River and Cedar Falls’ connection to Mother Nature through parks and bike paths. “We are pretty much connected to nature on a daily basis,” Troy Slater, a dear friend of Larence-Richard’s  said. 

Slater was very close to Lawrence-Richards and witnessed his never -ending battle with cancer. He was inspired by Lawrence-Richards’ incessant strength, grace and dignity.’ Slater wanted to see Richard’s ambitions and positivity spread throughout Cedar Falls, by way of a memorial plaque, honoring Richards’ life. “He was a rare individual in this world,” Slater said. “I imagine that we will have to go beyond the scope of the education system and inform the public about Scott, the kind of individual he was, and how he touched lives while he was here.”

The idea of a plaque came to high school teachers Slater and Ethan Weichmann when visiting Peter Melendy Park, the area where they believe Richard wrote “Spring Thaw.” For English teacher Troy Slater, his idea to recognize his friend who died after he retired last school year started on Monday of spring break this year. 

“We took a drive and went over there. We walked out, and we were walking around and heard the flag shackle rack. And Ethan said this is probably where he wrote it,” said Slater.” In the first line of his poem, Lawrence-Richards writes about what the two men heard on the Monday before Spring Break: “The flag shackle racks against its pole, and the flag snaps north under the promptings of a southern gust.”

The plaque is tentatively planned to be built a year from now in Peter Melendy Park, which is located at the intersection of First and Main Street. The plaque will display a copper drawing of Lawrence-Richards, a short biography and his poem. 

Previously this year there was a “jeans day” at the high school. Teachers paid $5 to wear a pair of jeans to school, and $450 went to creating the memorial plaque. With the success of the first jeans day, a tentative district-wide jeans day is also planned for next year to preserve and spread lawrence-Richards’ mark on this community and in the greater society. The next step in the development of the memorial plaque is to finish a couple models of the plaque, and than getting them approved by the city council. 

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