On March 12, 2014 @ 6:02 am our beloved Zachary was taken from our lives. One would think the loss of a child is the toughest obstacle a parent would have to endure...but that's not true. The toughest obstacle is losing a child and the memory of their life and unique characteristics would be forgotten.
On this day, March 12th, 2015, we witnessed a community continue to come together to maintain their level of commitment and memory to "their" beloved Zachary Brandon Bernstein. I have witnessed over the past year, that Zachary isn't just my child but the child of a community, a child of connected friends on social media, letters and phone calls, that range from New York to California to London to Australia. A community that continues to rise above expectation and never forgets the love they have for "Their Son" and the inspiration, values & character Zachary has, on not only a the community of Lynbrook but on the many communities that stretch coast to coast, continent to continent.
On this day, March 12th, 2015 my family was invited to attend the Waverly Park Elementary School assembly. A well orchestrated event headed by Ms. Amy Garfinkel, 5th grade teacher to Zachary. We were invited to attend the 2:00 pm assembly that incorporated all the students, grades 1 - 5. We entered the gymnasium to a sea of pink. On this day. all the students were wearing Zachary's favorite color.
Although the assembly was created in honor of Zachary, there was a profound educational synergy between the program and learning. The students selected 5 key characteristics that seemed to make-up the true character of Zachary and was required to explain what they meant.
Grade by grade my family witnessed a school come together through song and speech as they incorporated the 5 characteristics into a presentation for all to see. At the end of each presentation...A beautifully designed kite was proudly displayed that showcased through images and words how their kite represented each characteristic and Zachary's life.
At the conclusion of the assembly, we were escorted by the children signing "Let's go fly a kite" to the main entry way where we saw a beautifully displayed art showcase. The showcase was a permanent fixture for all the wonderful works of art that children young and old will display for years to come. Surrounding the exhibit were beautiful bright and colorful kites soaring around the wall as though it was the frame surrounding the future Mona Lisa's, Pablo Picasso's and Rembrandt's.
Finally, we saw a beautiful plaque that was mounted between the casing that read... "dedicated to our friend and role model, Zachary Bernstein". Bitter sweet tears filled our eyes as we embraced many of the teachers, faculty and our close friend, Principal, Lucille McAssey. We were honored to be invited to such an amazing tribute. We can't thank our extended family enough.
We quickly left Waverly Park due to another surprise waiting at Lynbrook South Middle School. When we arrived, I could hear in the distance the faint song..."Let's go fly a Kite" emanate from the front door of the school. As we got closer, the song intensified. As we walked into the school we were greeted and surrounded by students, faculty, teachers, administrators and friends all wearing pink and waiting for our arrival.
Everyone was signing and waiving kites fashioned on sticks as they moved them gently back and forth. We were greeted by Principal Blum and Music Teacher, Ms. Pasqua with a warm embrace. We stood for awhile as we became the center of our circular family listening to the beautiful voices sing with emotion. We were asked to walk down the hall, song and students in tow and stand by a main stairwell. To our shock, we saw the most beautiful life size mural hanging for all to see. Designed by Art teachers, Ms. Henderson and Mrs. Schnall, painted by some of the students, a representation of Zachary in a park-like setting flying his Kite with his fiends. What a tribute and honor to have this life size work of art hanging for generations.
I asked Principal Blum, "How long will this be on the wall". Her response..."Forever".
The word "Forever" was my ah ha moment. It provided me comfort and confidence knowing that Zachary will always be with us. As the children of Waverly walk pass the beautiful works of art or the children of South continued to be inspired by the mural that hangs in the school, I am comforted knowing that Zachary will have a profound influence over generations now and "Forever".
On behalf of the Fly A Kite Foundation and The Bernstein family, we thank Dr. Burak, Mr. Pallotta, Ms. McAssey, Ms. Blum, Ms. Ronai, Ms. Garfinkel, Ms. Henderson, Ms. Schnall, Ms. Pasqua and all the teachers, administrators, students, parents, friends and family...we Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.