Seeliger Elementary has not forgotten little Patrick Ryea, a third-grader who died in November when he became trapped in a neighbor's shed after starting a fire there.
Seeliger Principal Lee Conley said there are lessons in Patrick's life and death that his classmates can learn from. So on Thursday, next to a sycamore tree planted by Girl Scouts behind the school in Patrick's honor, volunteers placed a boulder that will carry Patrick's name for generations.
"We wanted something lasting, something permanent," said Conley on Thursday. "That's a good looking rock."
Representatives from the Nevada Department of Transportation, Fisher Industries, Cashman Equipment Company and Stetson Inc., unloaded and placed the boulder Thursday morning. It was pulled from the earth where the new I-580 freeway will connect the Mt. Rose Highway to the Bowers Mansion cutoff.
Conley said the tree and rock can serve as tangible reminders for Patrick's classmates. "This is a lasting memorial for him and to remind kids how important fire safety is," Conley said. "We want the kids to remember Patrick and to not dink around with fire."
After Spring Break there will be a formal ceremony once a plaque with Patrick's name is put into place.
"He touched a lot of people and it's nice that he is being remembered," said Patrick's mother, Sylvia Parmenter, who admitted the dedication of the tree in Patrick's name was both heartbreaking and uplifting.
Parmenter had her own warning for parents.
"My biggest problem with the whole situation is that I had no idea how to be more effective with him in teaching him not to play with fire. I had caught him doing that before, but I was clueless as to how to go about teaching him not to. As parents we try to do the best we can, but sometimes it's not enough."
Parmenter said that if others see a curiosity with fire in their children, they must do whatever it takes to stop them.
"Not only do your kids think they are Superman and indestructible but sometimes parents think their kids are too," she said. "If something good can come out of this - if someone can learn something from this - that would be great."
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.