Voc-Tech Community Gather to Honor Memory of Late Visual Design Instructor
The Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech High School community gathered together once again Wednesday afternoon as dozens of doves were released in honor of late visual design instructor George Heath.
Over 2,000 students and faculty filled the bleachers at the Jeffrey E. Riley Football Stadium for a celebration of Heath's life and contributions to the Voc-Tech community.
The ceremony was put together by the Class of 2016, who used their leftover funds for prom to dedicate the next two school yearbooks with photos of the ceremony and Heath, as well as a brick in the alumni walkway.
A cherry tree was also planted outside the Visual Design classroom. Superintendent-Director James O'Brien said it was one of Heath's favorite trees.
In addition to words of remembrance by O'Brien, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III spoke about the heroic actions of Heath and the lessons that can be learned by both students and adults.
Visual Design senior Jillian Coelho said Heath was "like a second father to all of us" and the support by the school and community has been incredible.
"It's amazing that everyone supported us when we made the shirts, when everyone mismatched their shoes and everyone coming out today and the support has just been amazing," said Coelho.
Coelho added that Heath was the reason she got involved in art, and she will be attending Massachusetts College of Art and Design this fall.
Heath's wife Rosemary also commended the school for their support throughout the days after the tragedy.
"This school handled the tragedy in the best way they possibly could," Heath said. "They should be the standard across Massachusetts, if not the nation, on how you handle a tragic event within a school."
"I honestly can say that the reason I smile is because of these students and this school."
Following the ceremony, members for the Voc-Tech Bears baseball team presented Rosemary with a baseball signed by the team in memory of George.
George was killed on the evening of May 10 while defending his wife and a pregnant waitress at Bertucci's inside the Taunton Silver City Galleria during a stabbing attack by Arthur Darosa.
Two other people, including Darosa, were killed in the attacks.