Community to dedicate memorial mosaic in Astley’s honor
On Saturday, June 16, at noon, the Wayland community will gather at the Wayland High School courtyard to commemorate the life of Lauren Dunne Astley through the unveiling of a memorial mosaic in her honor.
In mid-March, David Schmirer, a history teacher at Wayland High School, contacted a group of WHS students close to Astley to brainstorm ways to commemorate her at the high school.
Each week, the students, Sophia Lesser, Matthew Gutschenritter, Laura Vancil, Maeve Moynihan, Katrina Gaddis, Juliette Bastarache, Bailey Morgan, Liana Nierenberg, Maisie Flynn and Mackenzie Salitsky, would meet to design and later build the memorial mosaic and plan the unveiling event.
“Instead of thinking about the tragedy, we want to remind the community of how beautiful and special Lauren was,” Lesser said. “This memorial will not only honor Lauren but give the community a chance to constantly look at a beautiful piece of artwork in her honor.”
Funded by an anonymous donation and proceeds from fine arts events, the mosaic, designed by Flynn with help from local artist Joshua Winer, is composed of images and colors that had a special meaning to Lauren and those closest to her.
“Those who knew her will notice little details on the mosaic, such as a Starbucks symbol or shark fin, which will be reminders of things she loved, and those who weren’t close with her will be able to look at this beautiful piece of artwork and think about an amazing girl who was loved by many,” said Lesser.
Although the memorial has a color scheme modeled around coral, Astley’s favorite color, there are many bright colors featured in the mosaic to represent Astley’s colorful personality.
“It’s a beautiful piece of artwork that represents Lauren perfectly because it’s sparkling, bright, colorful and beautiful,” Lesser said.
The mosaic was completed this past Saturday, and all that that remains is to move it to its final location: the A building wall facing the courtyard. The location was decided because of its visibility and position close to WHS’s arts classes as Astley was part of the Muses, one of the high school’s a cappella groups.
“My hope is that the memorial will affect the community in a positive manner and help everyone cope with the situation almost a year later. We were really trying to veer away from the way she died and focus more on her life and her personality,” said Salitsky.
The process of building the mosaic has already brought the Wayland community together, even before its unveiling. Any students, parents and teachers who knew Astley had the opportunity to place tiles onto the mosaic.
“Working on the mosaic gave me a chance to reconnect with the people who knew her best; we could laugh and talk about memories,” Lesser said.
There will also be a plaque placed underneath the mosaic, which will be engraved with a quote from “Breathless,” a song Astley sang for the Muses. Flowers will also be planted under the memorial.
“The memorial shows just how Lauren’s life reached out and touched everyone she met,” said Flynn. “She still has a strong presence in our community that brings us closer together and turns friendships into family.”