Fimi's third-grade teacher.
Classmates, teachers and family members remain heartbroken at
their loss, but the memorial serves to remind them of her zest for
life and enthusiasm for learning.
Fimi's mother and relatives, dressed in black, wiped their eyes
with tissues frequently as classmates and school staff members spoke
Wednesday about the joyful child who was part of the school's family.
"People disappear but they never really go away," Principal Judy
Hession read from a poem. "I know that in our hearts, Fimi is doing
Though it was an afternoon of remembrance, the mood was not dark.
Students who would have been Fimi's fourth-grade classmates lined up
to shovel dirt onto the newly planted tree.
Raghda Mansour, Fimi's mother, watched the children through her
tears, thankful for their kind gift.
"It means that all the children united and helped and when I see
the children, I remember Fimi," she said through a translator.
Fimi enjoyed school and learning so there was no more fitting
place than Miller Elementary School's quad for the memorial, teachers
and students said.
The effort was community driven. Students painted messages on
tiles, which rest beneath the bench and teachers, parents, civic
organizations and others contributed time and money to the project,
"Fimi was a delightful child who enriched my life as a teacher
last year," said Spence, pausing to hold back his tears. "She made
teaching a joy for me."
Fimi's absence was deeply felt but the memorial somehow offered
renewed life and comfort, friends and family said.
"It means ... a happy day because we're celebrating her life,"
Fimi's 8-year-old sister Silina Mansour said.
Pictures of Fimi were displayed on a table near the memorial. In
each one she was smiling. Even the sunshine reminded friends of Fimi.
"Today really makes me think of Fimi," Victoria Park, 9, said.
"Since the sun is shining a lot it makes me think of her, her big
smiling face. She was bright."