By Angela Pell
With tears in their eyes and plenty of love in their hearts, students and staff from North Royalton High School, along with members of the Miciunas family, marched together to Memorial Park, where a special bench was placed to honor North Royalton’s own, Alec Miciunas. This special ceremony took place on September 15, 2017, a year after Alec lost his year-long fight with cancer.
Alec Miciunas was in eleventh grade at North Royalton High School when he lost his battle with cancer. Students have stated that his passing has greatly impacted them and the staff at NRHS even a year after his passing. They also noted that even during Alec’s fight, he was always still smiling and trying to make other people smile, even when he wasn’t doing the greatest.
To remember Alec, NRHS students and staff raised money from ticket sales for “GLO-RO” in early 2017 to purchase a bench and plaque with Alec’s name on it. Staff member, Mr. Ciha, planned an event with student council and Alec’s closest friends on the one-year anniversary of Alec’s passing to “honor and showcase his life” and place the bench in Memorial Park. Mrs. Joyce, another staff member at NRHS, also helped with the purchasing and transportation of the bench to the park.
Over 100 students and staff members, and also Alec’s family members, gathered in the lower pavilion at Memorial Park to talk about Alec’s life. Arleen Miciunas, Alec’s mother, read a speech written by Alyssa Miciunas, Alec’s older sister, who could not attend the bench ceremony due to being away at Miami University. Alyssa said, “The little speech I wrote explained how grateful we are for how much support the community has shown to our family, and how happy we are that Alec has not been forgotten! We are truly thankful.”
The turnout of students who attended to celebrate Alec’s memory was outstanding. Mr. Hoover, another staff member at NRHS who admired Alec greatly, stated that he was “overwhelmed and blown away by the amount of support shown,” and Alyssa Miciunas stated, “I was overwhelmed with joy. I don’t think anyone in my family expected such a big turnout of people!” She also stated, “It was incredible,” and that the Miciunas family “was touched and amazed” by the efforts for this event.
During this ceremony, there were plenty of emotions. Many of the students and staff at NRHS had watering eyes and heavy hearts while talking of Alec. Many hugs and tons of love were given to the family and also between the students of North Royalton High School. Mr. Hoover said that “seeing everyone come together like that is emotional” and that he thinks about Alec on a daily basis.
During the last year without Alec, NRHS students and faculty have
mourned his death greatly and have been very supportive towards to Miciunas family. Alyssa stated, “I don’t really have words for how it feels to be so supported by our community,” and that the family is “touched that Alec meant so much to his peers that they wanted to do something special for him.” She stated that Alec’s family has not had the easiest year with the passing of their family member, but the support of our community has made it easier for them to get through this hard time.
Although Alyssa and older brother Lukas could not attend the bench memorial, Alyssa stated that she and her brother felt like they were at the ceremony. She said, “We were also so grateful that Chazzlyn [Senior class president] reached out to us to let us choose what would be put on the plaque because it made us feel like a special part of the event.” She also celebrated the people at NRHS and said, “Our community has been incredible supportive. We never expected the community, especially the high school, to be so supportive of us.” She felt like she was there, even being so far away at school.
Mr. Ciha also stated that there will be another bench placed at the North Royalton High School from the senior class. The bench will be created out of skateboards to honor Alec and his passion for skateboarding.
“The biggest concern from our family when Alec passed away was that once his funeral was over everyone would just forget about him and his name and memory would just disappear from conversation,” Alyssa said, “but then I found out about the bench and my heart felt so happy!”
Angela Pell is a senior at North Royalton High School. She is a competition cheerleader at Midwest Cheer Elite Cleveland, a member of the NRHS art league, and also enjoys her job at the Jump Yard. She is formerly a member of the award-winning North Royalton High School Marching and concert bands. She is also a member of the app Wattpad, where she has written several fictional stories. In her free time she also enjoys photography. In fall of 2018 she will be attending Youngstown State University to focus on Hospitality Management.