For a number of months residents of Golden, teachers at Golden Secondary School (GSS) along with former and present students have been working on a project to remember and honour Michael Oddy.
Michael, who was a student at Golden Secondary School, passed away, after a long battle with cancer, on July 21, 2010 at the age of 17. Teacher Jens Seidemann was one of the people who became involved with the project to build a bench to remember Michael.
“I was approached last spring to do this. My role was what I normally do which is to gather people and equipment,” Seidemann said.
In the case of a bench for the former student Seidemann found there was no shortage of help. People from the town and the school stepped up to give their time and talents to create something for Michael.
Seidemann explained that Michael was “A young person who had a tough fight. I remember sitting in the school with him and talking with him about what he was going through. All he wanted was to be a student again.”
The bench, which was unveiled at GSS on the first day of school this year, took 120 hours to make and is completely hand crafted with the centrepiece being an etched portrait of Michael which was made by a custodian at the school.
“We went with a sunrise pattern. We wanted to have something here that when people thought back on Mike they would think uplifting thoughts,” Seidemann said.
Family members of Michael, friends and teachers came out to the unveiling to have the chance to see the bench.
One of those people on hand was Michael’s mother Roberta Altenhofen who was visibly touched by what the group had done.
“It is amazing. It is beautiful. The time and effort of all the people who put their talents into it. Mike’s friends and the school. It has really been amazing,” Altenhofen said.
She was also amazed by the amount of detail in the portrait on the bench. “It looks just like him,” she said.
When asked what she would say to the people who were involved with the bench project Altenhofen said, “There are no words. We have had so much support from friends, teachers and everyone. To have him in their thoughts is amazing because they loved him that much. I am going to come and sit on it and have my lunch here,” she said.