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Gibbs community members build tree in memory of students who have died

Former student Alexus Tate said several people got together to raise money and have the memorial built. Now, they plan to make it even more special.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Behind some leaves and tucked behind Gibbs High School sits a tree. The trunk is silver and metal. It is not just any tree.

It holds a special meaning to the students and to the broader community. 

"There are different color leaves and the names are whole punched through," graduate Alexus Tate said. "The fact that I have more than one friend on there means a lot to me," 

They are the names are of students from Gibbs High School who died. Names like Zach Munday, Bryce Collier and many others are spread across the leaves. 

"I think it means a lot to them that they can go there ... see their name and remember them," Tate said. 

Bryce Collier's mom also shared pictures of her son, and she talked about memories she had of his kindness, the way he helped people and all the ways he loved his family.

Credit: wbir

Tate said that the tree is meant to help preserve memories like those. She helped raise money to build it by selling sweatshirts in the memory of her friend, Zach Munday. The 15-year-old who died back in 2019. But Tate said it took a little bit of everyone to bring the tree to life.

"Whether it was raising money or building it, it was a group effort all around," she said. "Several people donated money and helped make it possible."

So now the tree sits behind these leaves, tucked behind Gibbs High School in memory of young people gone too soon.

"It's really nice," Tate said. "We want everybody to take this space and look at it for what it is."