Local Boy Scout builds an outdoor classroom in memory of Sabal Point Elementary’s Lynn Halbfoster
Lynn Halbfoster, known fondly as Mrs. H, was a teacher at Sabal Point Elementary School for almost 20 years. While at Sabal Point, she taught every grade level, worked with both gifted students and students with disabilities, and most of all Lynn left an indelible impression on everyone she encountered. Lynn loved to take her students outside on beautiful days to bring literacy to life. Her passion for learning and reading was infectious and won the hearts of her students and colleagues alike.
When Lynn passed away in January 2019 after a long battle with cancer, her loss was felt by all who were fortunate to know her.
“We miss Lynn’s passion and grace, but she will live forever in the hearts of her students and fellow teachers,” says Sabal Point teacher Heather Doyle. “Lynn fought hard for many years. She had so much strength and courage. We’ll always remember her spirit and dedication to the profession.”
To honor Lynn’s memory and continue her legacy, Heather recruited the help of local Boy Scout Ryan Gross, 16, a former Sabal Point student and current sophomore at Crooms Academy of Information Technology. Ryan, who is actively working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, was honored to take on a service project to create a fitting tribute to Lynn on the Sabal Point campus.
“We decided we wanted the memorial to be in the form of a pergola with benches because it could serve as an outdoor classroom and reading space for students,” explains Ryan. “I’m happy to have had the opportunity to help with such a worthy cause and give back to the school that gave so much to me and my education.”
Within a few months of finalizing the details and timeline for the project, Ryan got to work. To raise money, he sold brick pavers and granite tiles engraved with personalized positive messages, which were placed prominently in the front of the pergola. Thanks to the generosity and support of the community, Ryan sold 89 pavers and seven tiles, raising more than $1,000 on top of his initial fundraising goal. Other members of his Scout troop were also instrumental in completing the project by volunteering their time on weekends to help build the pergola from the ground up.
“Ryan has gone above and beyond for this project, and we are so very proud of his work,” says Heather. “I had a vision for the project, and he took off with it and put in countless hours – from fundraising to budgeting, sourcing all the materials, and labor. He’s an impressive young man, and this service project is a testament to his abilities.”
A special ribbon-cutting ceremony for the outdoor classroom was held in mid-January. Ryan, accompanied by his family and troop leaders, took a moment to sincerely thank all those who helped make the project a reality. In attendance were school officials, students, teachers, and Lynn’s husband, Dean.
“Today, as I look upon all of you with the completed pergola standing behind me, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I feel,” said Ryan. “This pergola is so beautiful, and the thought of students and teachers coming here to learn is something that will keep me going for a long time. I leave this project with more than just a requirement signed off. I leave with life skills and memories that I will use and treasure for the rest of my life. And I would like to thank each and every one of you for being here with me to celebrate this end of a chapter in my life and what I will hope to be the beginning of one in so many others’ lives.”
In an emotional thank-you address at the ceremony, Dean spoke to the attendees about his late wife.
“I look at this lovely memorial to my lady knowing that it will always be here, always a reminder of the testament to her from all of those who knew and loved her” he said. “And to you Ryan, for getting it just right, and in a way, keeping Lynn alive. The memorial is not overdone, not showy. It is tasteful and beautiful in its simplicity. It is truly Lynn. She would have been pleased and touched. I hope stories are told about Mrs. H when old and new students and teachers come to this lovely place. In this lovely outdoor space, Lynn does indeed endure.”
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