Distilled by tragedy, love, hope, and unity emerge in their purest form to honor those lost and help restore a community. A circle is chosen to symbolize the perfect and complete expression of these universal human needs. It is a simple yet powerful form that predates recorded history and crosses all cultural boundaries, appearing in both nature and man-made environments to represent wholeness. The circle also signifies the unbreakable bond of a community that has experienced deep and acute loss, yet remains united in their love for the children and adults whose memories will endure with the falling leaves each autumn and the blossoming flowers in the spring. The memorial is rooted in this bond of community, and the tranquil habitats found within the landscape provide the setting for healing and remembrance.
The memorial, like the grieving and healing process, is understood as a space of transformation and change that embodies both the evolving landscape and the commemorative pieces within it. The existing site contains four diverse habitats: Deciduous forest, Meadow, Wetland, and Boreal forest. Each of these landscapes creates an experience independent of the others, offering a range of moods, tones, and emotions that are brought about simply through walking from one habitat to the next. The memorial uses three distinct components - Unity Path, Meadow, and Reflection Plane - to unify all of the site’s existing habitats in remembrance of the students and educators.