July 22, 2010
All text and photos by Jen Cowart
REMEMBERING MS. RANKIN: Principal Patricia Caporelli explains that just as Meg Rankin had an effect on the future, so too would her memorial tree spread its branches far and wide for many years.
Margaret “Meg” Rankin, a teacher at George J. Peters Elementary School, lost her battle with cancer this past April.
But thanks to the staff, students and families of the Peters community, she won’t soon be forgotten.
At a ceremony last month, Principal Patricia Caporelli hosted a ceremony to celebrate Rankin’s life and commitment to education in Cranston. Rankin’s mother, Nancy Scarton, had traveled to Rhode Island for the memorial ceremony.
“We are truly honored to have you here to help us celebrate the life and memory of a special faculty member,” said Caporelli. “This is a bittersweet celebration because we all wish she were here with us.”
She introduced Patricia Bennett’s second grade class, who read a class letter, “Dear Meg Rankin’s Mom,” with each child reading a part of the letter. They said they thought Scarton would enjoy hearing some of the special things about her daughter, which included her smiling face when she entered their classroom, and a book about homonyms that she shared with them one day.
Four students from Rankin’s fourth grade class shared memories of their beloved teacher, describing her as kind, incredible, nice and spectacular.
“Ms. Rankin was a very good teacher. She was kind and nice and helpful. My favorite memory of her was when we made gingerbread houses,” said Lexie Freeman. “I will miss her but I am thankful that I have such happy memories of her.”
Fifth grader Brittany Tougas read a poem aloud to the audience.
“Ms. Rankin took you through miles and miles of challenges, even though she had the biggest challenge of her own to face,” Tougas said. “A part of her will always remain with us.”
Tougas’ poem was followed by the fifth grade chorus performing an emotional rendition of, “I Have a Dream.”
Faculty member and friend of Rankin, Patricia Bennett, presented Scarton with Rankin’s yearbook, which she had purchased earlier in the school year. It was filled with messages from the staff and teachers at Peters. She invited anyone else to add a message as well.
The ceremony moved outside, where a Weeping Cherry Tree donated by Briden Nursery was planted in the yard of the school. The George J. Peters Sunshine Committee, along with the students at Peters, donated a bench to accompany the tree.
J. DiMarco Landscape donated flowers to be planted around the tree, and the Cranston Teachers Alliance 30 Week Club donated a memorial plaque for the bench.
The students and faculty, family and friends surrounded the perimeter of the area in which the tree was being planted as Caporelli continued the ceremony.
“Someone once said that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago,” said Caporelli. “The second best time is today.”
She stated that every action today has an effect on the future, and that Rankin had touched the future of so many students.
“For many years, this tree will spread its branches wide in memory of Ms. Meg Rankin,” Caporelli said.
Although it had been a cloudy, rainy morning, the sun shone brightly for the tree planting ceremony.
“Meg would not have had it any other way,” Scarton said as she thanked everyone for their support and for being a part of Rankin’s life.
Rankin’s family members and the students and staff were asked to come forward if they wanted to help lay the dirt around the tree, and many did step forward.
Bennett read a personal letter about her friendship with Rankin and all of the things she’d learned from her. Although Rankin was fighting her own battles, Bennett said she always asked what she could do to help others.
Scarton reminded the students how much her daughter had loved them.
“Meg was not married and did not have any children of her own, but you were all her children and she loved each and every one of you as an individual,” she said.