Trees dedicated at Holy Family

Plantings honor retired teacher, former student

From left, Gabe Hellmann’s parents, Steve and Tori, are present for the dedication of a tree by Holy Family Catholic School Principal Sister Ann Ashwood on Thursday. The tree was planted in Gabe’s honor and was blessed Thursday. Gabe was a former student at Holy Family; he drowned in a Palisade pond last summer.

A former student and a former teacher will be remembered each time kids at Holy Family Catholic School race past two flowering pear trees planted next to play equipment in the school’s courtyard.

The kindergarten through eighth-grade school dedicated one tree Thursday to Holy Family graduate Gabriel Hellmann, who died at age 17 in a drowning accident in June in East Orchard Mesa. The other pear tree was dedicated to retired Holy Family teacher Oneta Jennings.

Meanwhile, two ash trees on a hill beside the school were dedicated to Helen Ashwood and Andrew Ashwood, the mother and brother of Holy Family Principal Ann Ashwood.

Ashwood told students huddled outside the school, braving wind and a few raindrops, they would have loved her energetic brother, who passed away along with her mother during the nine years Ashwood has been principal of the school. She added Jennings’ family told her the 10-plus years Jennings taught first-grade at the school “were the happiest of her life.”

Hellmann’s parents, Steve and Tori Hellmann, attended the dedication ceremony for their son’s tree. Tori Hellmann taught at Holy Family, and her son went to school there before attending Palisade High School. He would have graduated from Palisade High next month.

“Thank you all so much,” Tori Hellmann told students and staff as she stood next to the tree dedicated to her son.


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