The students and staff of Windsor Mill Middle School, led by Principal Deborah Phelps and sixth-grade team leader Casey Head, hosted a special event to dedicate a memorial garden to the memory and life of former student Derek G. Johnson, who passed away over the 2009 Memorial Day weekend.

Developed and planned by students and funded with a $3,500 grant from the Lowe’s Corp., the garden includes trees, perennials, and grasses native to Maryland, as well as a memorial bridge, engraved stone, benches, and a large mosaic made of several combined panels.

The year-long project received a helping hand from Art with a Heart, an organization that assisted with the materials needed for the mosaic and much of the artistic vision of the project.

During the ceremony, the school’s student musicians played “Amazing Grace” in Derek’s memory. Other students recited a variety of student and staff memories of the vivacious and popular sixth-grader. The event was attended by scores of students and teachers, Derek’s family members, and community partners in the efforts.

Principal Phelps noted that several flowers had blossomed in the garden just in time for the June 11 ceremony, according to a press release.