Memorial Garden Dedicated to Former Starkey Student

Former teachers, classmates, family and community members came out to help dedicate a memorial garden and bench for a former Starkey Elementary student on Sept. 2.

Arianna Lopez was remembered by former teachers during the dedication ceremony at the corner of the playground and a memorial bench under the shade of a large tree was unveiled. The ceremony was held a little over a year after Arianna was tragically killed after a drunk driver crashed into her bedroom in August 2020.

Teachers who shared remembrances of Arianna were Tami Bocanegra, Dylan Warren and Heather Grace. Little sister Peyton Lopez sang a song and Logan Arispe read a poem. Teacher Hailey Mohnke thanked several local businesses and organizations who contributed to turning the garden into a reality.

Arianna’s bench has her name and portrait laser-cut into it and is the perfect shade of sparkly, purple-pink that she would have loved, Mrs. Mohnke said.

The idea to make a garden in Arianna’s memory started last school year, when Mrs. Mohnke and the Starkey Character Council began fundraising efforts for a nice bench to be placed on the playground. After word of the project spread, the community stepped in with financial and in-kind donations to bring a garden with butterfly-attracting plants and irrigation system, rock border and little library to life.

Mrs. Mohnke said Arianna’s love for reading inspired her to want to become a teacher, so adding a little library in her memory was the perfect way to honor her.

Friends and family were invited to write special memories of words on the stones that line the garden.

Unveiling Arianna's bench


Leaving memories on the stones 


Arianna Lopez Memorial Garden at Starkey Elementary


Stones with love


In Loving Memory of Arianna Lopez