Tree decoration event honors memory of Woodridge Primary School student

by alison stewart | reporter Published:

Cuyahoga Falls -- Shortly before Christmas, family members and school officials gathered to pay tribute to a Woodridge Primary School student whose life was cut short nearly 19 years ago.

On March 22, 1994, Joseph Fronk, then 6, was hit and killed by a truck in front of Keyser Park. Shortly after the accident, a pine tree was planted in his memory in front of Woodridge Primary School, where he had been a student in kindergarten.

On Dec. 14, 2012, Joseph's sister, Nicole Tomayko, decided to have family and friends decorate the tree for Christmas. Nicole and her family flew in from Texas to decorate the tree on what would have been Joseph's 25th birthday.

"They had all kinds of decorations," said Woodridge Primary School Principal Karen Sykes. "A cherry-picker had to be used so everyone could decorate the tree from top to bottom. The tree has gotten so tall."

There had been a painting hanging outside Joseph's old classroom which was encased in a frame. The painting was of two small children and had a poem encased with it that Nicole had written shortly after Joseph's passing.

Joseph's kindergarten teacher, Barb Guappone -- who still teaches at Woodridge Primary -- presented the painting to Joseph's mother, Marcie Tomayko, at the event.

"She was surprised, but very grateful," said Sykes. "It was a heartwarming, appropriate, and very moving tribute to Joey."

There were also some gifts such as a ceramic child that Marcie had given to Guappone shortly after Joseph's passing. Guappone brought these gifts out to show Marcie at the event. She wanted to show her that she had kept them all these years.

"Joey was a darling, beautiful, and comic little boy," said Guappone. "I was amazed at the number of people who came to help decorate and to talk and laugh and celebrate this tiny child's life."

Email: astewart@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9419 ext. 4163

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