Trinity students make tombstones for the indigent

Trinity High School senior-to-be Chad Hargadon, left, received instruction on how to engrave names into a tombstone May 27 from Trinity theology and art teacher Holly McGuire. Members of Trinity’s Green Cross Service Club are learning how to stencil, engrave, chisel and paint tombstones for indigent people buried in the city’s two potter’s fields.  (Record Photo by Jessica Able)
Trinity High School senior-to-be Chad Hargadon, left, received instruction on how to engrave names into a tombstone May 27 from Trinity theology and art teacher Holly McGuire. Members of Trinity’s Green Cross Service Club are learning how to stencil, engrave, chisel and paint tombstones for indigent people buried in the city’s two potter’s fields. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

As the school year came to a close, several students at Trinity High School were still hard at work in the art labs at the school on Shelbyville Road.

But it wasn’t for a final project or a summer class.

The students were learning how to stencil, chisel, engrave and paint tombstones for indigent people buried in the city’s two potter’s fields. Right now about 150 graves do not have any sort of permanent marker, Trinity theology and art teach Holly McGuire said.

Her students were involved in the school’s Green Cross Service Club.

Planning for the Tombstone Project started last fall when Scott Holzknecht, moderator of Trinity’s St. Joseph of Arimathea Society, asked McGuire if she could help make the tombstones.

At the time, McGuire was teaching a ceramics class and had some contacts in the construction field. Everything else seemed to fall into place, McGuire said in an interview at the school May 27.

Daniel Langford, Trinity sophomore-to-be, said he got involved with the Tombstone Project because of his love of painting and his attention to detail. “I
really enjoy doing this,” Langford said as he protectively touched the tombstone he was stenciling. And Langford said when he learned the graves only had plastic markers, he thought the deceased deserved something better.

“I’m a perfectionist and I’m making this as if it were for one of my family members,” he said.

Chad Hargadon, a senior-to-be, said he hopes that by making a permanent grave marker, those that are buried in the potters’ fields will be shown the dignity they deserve.

McGuire said she envisions the students working on the stone in shifts with a student specializing in one or two areas.

First, someone needs to stencil the names, birth dates, death dates and a cross. Next, the same or another student uses a Dremel tool to engrave the outline of the text and cross.
Then, a student uses a chisel and hammer to sculpt the letters. To finish it up, a student paints the interior of the letters with enamel paint.

“It’s a very labor intensive process,” McGuire said. “But, it’s a labor of love.”

Jeff Breitenstein of Central Construction has agreed to donate all the concrete for the tombstones. And the school has bought the necessary tools and supplies the students will need.

McGuire said that by fall she would like to see the process fine-tuned so that the students who want to be involved can step in and begin work.

The students should be able to produce two or three tombstones a month, McGuire said. She said teachers also have expressed interest in getting involved.

“This is for the long haul. Kids that are not even here yet will get to experience this one day,” she said.

McGuire said, once the boys are comfortable with the work, she hopes to teach them to pray while they are working on the tombstone.

“I want to teach them that praying is not just for church or at the dinner table,” McGuire said.

McGuire said she wants the students to carry this experience with them for the rest of their lives.

“I want them to know that you can be Christ for others when you don’t know that person” and that person isn’t in front of them.

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3 replies on “Trinity students make tombstones for the indigent”
  1. says: Betty Blandford scn

    I am so proud of what these young men are doing. They may forget other things they learn at Trinity but they will never forget this. Thanks for the leaders who introduced this to them.

  2. says: Alex Ratterman

    A very kind expression indeed. A great reminder that all life is valuable, and that by being aware of need around us, we can help.

    To the teachers and students involved, well done.

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