Around the UFT

Memorial mural unveiled for student at PS 82, Queens

‘Love with all your heart’

PS 82 educators, along with UFT District 28 Representative Angela Artis (sixth fMiller PhotographyPS 82 educators, along with UFT District 28 Representative Angela Artis (sixth from left), pose in front of the memorial mural.

Tabitha Collins (left), Demetrius’ sister, embraces Steward.Miller PhotographyTabitha Collins (left), Demetrius’ sister, embraces Steward. Demetrius Palmer Jr. had an “infectious joy and love for life,” said Grisel Rodriguez, the principal of PS 82 in Jamaica, Queens. Demetrius, a 4th-grader at the school, accidentally drowned on Aug. 16. Teachers, students and family members gathered in the school’s yard on Nov. 30 to remember Demetrius and unveil a mural in his memory. Designed by Australian artist Damien Mitchell, the mural shows Demetrius in his beloved soccer jersey watching over his friends with the words “Do what makes you happy, laugh as much as you can, love with all your heart.” As they gathered to view the mural, several of Demetrius’ classmates embraced as a teacher wiped away their tears. “We’re here to celebrate his life: who he was and who he will be forever in our hearts,” said PS 82 Chapter Leader Maria Di Fava. Di Fava and Demetrius’ 4th-grade teacher, Nicole Eye, presented his mother with a book of letters written by his classmates. “It means a lot to the kids to be able to dedicate their feelings to him this way,” said Eye. At the ceremony, in front of many of Demetrius’ family members, his classmates recited poems in his memory and sang “You’ll Be in My Heart.” Demetrius’ mother, Tanya Steward, remembered her son as an “awesome kid.” “I want all his friends and teachers to know that we have to keep loving one another because that’s what he did,” she said. “He loved everyone.”

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