GVSU to honor deceased community members with ‘Laker Remembrance’

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Brandon Fitzgerald participates in a candle light vigil around the Cook Carillon Tower on Grand Valleys Allendale campus on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff – Brandon Fitzgerald participates in a candle light vigil around the Cook Carillon Tower on Grand Valley’s Allendale campus on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015.

Celia Harmelink

Grand Valley State University is honoring students, faculty, staff and alumni who have died in the past year at the fifth annual Laker Remembrance. All Lakers are welcome to attend this event, which will be held Wednesday, April 12, on the Allendale Campus.

There will be a service event held at the Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP) at 2 p.m. Members of the community can volunteer for as long or as short as they would like. There will be a shuttle running from the Kirkhof Center to the SAP during this time.

Abbi Mikaelian, the student coordinator for Laker Remembrance, said this service project is particularly meaningful because Dave Feenstra, a beloved member of the SAP, passed away in December 2015. He worked for Facilities Services for 18 years and was the adjunct manager for the SAP since 2014.

Mikaelian said the only thing volunteers should bring to the SAP is a desire to help out.

“Just bring yourself and motivation and enthusiasm to help out as much as possible, especially with the service project,” she said. “We don’t want it to be a super sad event. We want to celebrate the lives of the people who gave back to Grand Valley by giving back to Grand Valley as well.”

At 6 p.m., there will be a memorial service at Zumberge Pond. During this time, there will be poems read, music and a moment of silence for those who have passed. Floating candles will be lit in the pond for every Laker who died in the past year, and there will be a silent candle march through campus.

There will be roughly 100 Lakers remembered at this event.

Hailey Merritt, the Laker Traditions membership coordinator, is going to be performing at the memorial service.

“My roommate and I are playing guitar and singing ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ during that ceremony,” she said.“I think it will be special lighting the candles in memory of the person you’ve lost, the person you’ve cherished, and then watching that light go out.”

Following the march, there will be a reception at the Cook-DeWitt Center at 6:45 p.m. where there will be light refreshments and desserts provided. The night will end with the Cook Carillon Tower chiming once in memoriam for each life lost.

“I just think it’s important that we recognize them and celebrate them and celebrate their lives and how much they meant to Grand Valley,” Mikaelian said. “I think it’s good because it’ll make us realize that we will be recognized years from now, no matter what happens, because of this event.”

Merritt believes Laker Remembrance is a bittersweet event where students, faculty, staff and alumni of GVSU can cherish the lives that were lost and come together as a community.

“You’re a Laker for a lifetime, whether you’re a student or you’re an alum from 40 years ago,” Merritt said. “That life still matters, and we believe everyone should be celebrated. Everyone should have their memory and have their face associated with Grand Valley. Everyone cares. We’re all a community; we’re all a family.”

For more information, visit www.gvsu.edu/remember.