Memorial for Uvalde victims set up outside Town Hall

Jun 3, 2022

Twenty-one little chairs sit quietly in the grass by Memorial Town Hall.

Wareham School Resource Officer Karl Baptiste placed them there, one by one, each adorned with the face and name of a person who died in Uvalde, Texas last week. He was helped by Police Chief Walter Correia and police officer Dean Decas.

The memorial, 21 chairs for the 21 children and teachers who were killed in the school shooting on May 24, was set up on Thursday. Baptiste worked with the Wareham Education Association to make it happen, association vice president and kindergarten teacher Michele Lefrancois said.

The idea for the chair memorial came, Lefrancois said, after Baptiste shared a video on Facebook of another community honoring those killed with a similar setup.

Baptiste spearheaded the memorial and reached out to the town about the plan, Lefrancois said.

On Tuesday, he picked up chairs from the old Decas school. Lefrancois printed pages of photos and names of those killed and gave them to Baptiste to post on each chair.

“I sobbed while printing out the pages and laminating them,” Lefrancois said in a heavy voice.

She said a few of her students have heard about the shooting on the news, and their parents have done a good job of explaining what happened in an age-appropriate way. Lefrancois said when she was in college nearly three decades ago, school shootings like this weren’t discussed.

Now when she goes into her building, ready to teach a classroom of kindergarteners, she has to think about these things: where the exits are, how to get the kids somewhere safe and quiet, and what she can use as a weapon. 

“It’s definitely changed the scope of teaching,” she said.

Lefrancois said the chairs will likely be up for several days and at least through the weekend, which means the memorial will be on the lawn as senior students are graduating from Wareham High School Friday night.

The kindergarten teacher said that isn’t to put a damper on the celebrations, but in Uvalde, “19 children are not going to be graduating from their school, ever.”