YORK COUNTY Va. (WAVY) — Soon after her son Conner died last fall, Tammy Guido turned her grief into energy to honor her son’s life and legacy.
She created a scholarship foundation and is working with government leaders to make the roads safer for everyone. Guido also wants to place a permanent memorial at Tabb High School, were Conner attended. But she keeps hitting roadblocks.
Conner died last October, he was one of the three 16-year-old boys who died in a car crash after the homecoming dance at Tabb High School. The families maintain a memorial at the crash site, a bend in the road not even a mile from the school.
Guido wants a permanent memorial at the school her son loved, she’s even offered to pay for it. Conner’s love for Tabb was so apparent, he was awarded “Most Spirited” months after his death.
“He loved being at that school,” said Guido. “He stayed after school, he was involved in all types of extracurricular activities and clubs. We’re looking for something at this school that will leave Conner’s legacy that everybody can share.”
Before approving a memorial, York County School Division officials said they wanted to create a standard operating procedure for memorials on campus. After nine months of effort, Guido says there has been very limited progress.
“We understand the limitations that the Grafton fires presented, and then COVID and the school systems being shut down,” said Guido. “But we really believe that something this simple shouldn’t take this much effort to get done.”
She points out other schools in the county, including Tabb, have plenty of memorials. There’s a tree with a plaque at York High for example.
We spoke on the phone with Dr. Carroll, the chief operations officer for York County Schools. He said it may appear simple, but the reality is a lot more complex.
“There are two sides to everything and how this affects the students that are involved,” explained Carroll.
Carroll says the memorial is a delicate balancing act between honoring Conner and recognizing the impact it will have on students who are still grieving.
“We’re trying to take a deliberative approach and to make sure that we’re sensitive to everybody’s emotions because this was such an emotional event for the whole school community.”
Carroll says this is why the division decided it was best to create a standard operating procedure to have a uniform approach to school memorials.
At the school level, officials say they want the process to be led by the students.
“This is something that’s very much still in process and looking forward to resuming, once we resume school in the fall,” said Carroll.
For Guido, getting the memorial up before Conner’s friends had all graduated and left Tabb was extremely important. His sister and close friends were all graduating seniors. Conner would be entering his senior year of high school this fall.
The school division said they had every intention of completing a memorial by the spring. But with the Grafton fire and COVID-19 shutdowns, it wasn’t possible.
They said they’ve had ongoing discussions about creating the standard operating procedure this summer.
For Guido, this memorial is part of the healing process. A process filled with pain, and love, for an incredible child whose memory and legacy will live on through the work of those who knew and loved him.