Nine years ago, our third grade class at the Genesee Community Charter School (GCCS) went on a field trip to Kings Landing Cemetery off of Lake Avenue. We were studying the early history of Rochester. Buried in this cemetery were some of the first settlers to live in Rochester and yet you could barely tell it was a cemetery. Many graves were so sunk into the ground that only a corner or small sliver of stone was exposed. Most graves were completely covered. Of the few stones that still stood above the ground, most were cracked and weathered to the point that they were unreadable. The grass was unmowed and littered with trash. This saddened us. The people buried at Kings Landing were pioneers who built our city and we felt they deserved recognition and remembrance.
So, six of us decided to raise money for the cemetery’s restoration. We called our effort “Save the Graves.” As third graders, the logical way to do this was an arts and crafts sale. We spent our afternoons making coasters, bookmarks, headbands, magnets, and duct tape pens to sell to parents, students and faculty after school. With the help of the amazing GCCS community, we raised over $450 dollars!
After such a successful fundraiser, we met with Mary Gaudioso from the city (who’s now retired), and together we started talking about what could be done. We discussed the expenses of a total restoration, and the possibility of a memorial garden to commemorate the people buried there. At this point we were in sixth grade and about to graduate from elementary school. As we all moved on to different schools and grew apart, our project remained at a standstill. The money we raised remained untouched, accumulating interest.
Now, as most of us are about to graduate from high school (two of us graduated early), it is high time we did something with the money. We are proud to be donating this money to the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery to help with their restoration of this beautiful piece of Rochester’s history. We had the honor of being able to see the amazing work they are doing to restore some of the oldest graves in the cemetery. We feel this organization aligns with our initial goal to preserve Rochester’s history and honor those who built this city. Although it has been a long process, we are so happy to be supporting such an important effort!
Tali Beckwith-Cohen, Madison Sutherland, Asha Hotaling, Jules Wagner, Rosie Anderson-Zych, and Shira Presberg
The Gift is Received
Today we had the joy of meeting two of these young people, Tali and Madison, when they came to Mount Hope to share their story and present us with a check for $550. What a delightful experience! These students are graduating from SOTA and going off to college. We took them to the section that we are restoring and they met our rehab group led by Bill Yager. Dennis Carr told them about the first person buried at Mount Hope, whose grave was nearby. They presented us with their check, such a wonderful gift which will be used to help with restoration projects at Mount Hope.
Our thanks to these young women, and also to their teachers and parents who instilled in them an interest in improving our city. And also, our gratitude to Mary Gaudioso, retired from Mount Hope Cemetery, who obviously took time to talk to these students as children, and inspired them to do this project.
We have invited these young people and their families to come to Mount Hope for a tour this summer before they leave for college. It will be our gift to them.
Thank you, Tali, Madison, Asha, Jules, Rosie, and Shira.
What an encouraging day. City kids, city schools, city teachers, caring young people. And the beneficiary of their kindness is our city’s treasure, Mount Hope Cemetery.
The sun is shining.
Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery