Written by 6:05 am Uncategorized

High school sports mural dedicated to Connor LaFrance

Connor LaFrance

SARATOGA SPRINGS Among all the sports figures in the newly completed Saratoga Springs High School Art Club mural, the ice hockey player stands out.

He is painted on a pilaster in the middle of the wall space there in the gymnasium hall, with long red hair showing under his helmet. He’s charging out from the iconic blue lighting bolt that symbolizes the school. That’s Connor LaFrance of Saratoga Springs, who died at age 14 and lives forever in the hearts he touched.

“I’ve known Connor since elementary school,” said Devin Dinon, who was president of the high school’s class of 2012. LaFrance would have graduated with that class. “He had this contagious energy and candidness. He was in my fourth-grade class, and he made every day memorable. He was so rambunctious and wanted to make everyone laugh.”

Dinon was one speaker at the mural dedication ceremony May 28. She said her classmates were there to honor one of their own who couldn’t physically cross the stage with them. He had been there in spirit.

His mother, Andrea, said her exuberant son’s favorite saying was “Hold it wide open.”

David, his father, wrote on the commemorative website www.connorlafrance.org, “Connor was one of the most compassionate, humble, funny kids around. He picked on his sisters as brothers should :), and he had many friends of all ages and from all walks of life.”

Family and consumer sciences teacher Elizabeth Morris was LaFrance’s seventh-grade home and career skills instructor. She was also an adviser for the class of 2012.

In an email to The Saratogian, she wrote, “Connor LaFrance lost his life racing to his future.”

LaFrance died in a motocross accident Sept. 21, 2007, while warming up for the Red Bull Rookies Cup tryouts at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. He was then an eighth-grader at Maple Avenue Middle School. On the commemorative website www.connorlafrance.org, David LaFrance wrote, “He was one of the most focused, talented young racers in the country.”

LaFrance’s classmates and friends also remember him as a gifted athlete. He was involved in lacrosse as well as in ice hockey and motocross. Dinon said he was a mentor to younger children who played sports.

“Connor was one of those kids everyone knew,” said the class of 2012’s Will Fortin, a friend of LaFrance. “If he were here, you’d find him the most interesting person you could ever befriend.”

If LaFrance had been voted into the class superlatives for 2012, Dinon said he would have been either most outgoing or class clown.

The LaFrance family started the Connor LaFrance Scholarship Fund in his honor. And to commemorate their fellow student, the class of 2012 gave the mural. Art teacher Catherine Ruggles, the Art Club advisor, has a daughter who graduated from the high school in 2012. Ruggles asked outstanding artists from that class to create the artwork in his name. The students designed a sports-related mural with LaFrance, the talented hockey player, in the center as a tribute to his love of athletics.

Fortin was a key painter in the creation of the mural, which he calls more than just a piece of art.

“It’s a memorial, and creating it is my biggest honor to date,” he said.

After the planned location changed, he helped redesign the piece to fit onto the new wall. He used a grid system drawn on large paper in order to place the sports figures artistically within the concrete block lines. All the school sports are represented by simple blue and white figures arranged along swirls of color representing the seasons. For example, cheerleading, football and soccer are in the yellow summer at the start of the school year; wrestling and track are in the red fall. In the blue winter swirls are diving and skiing, and in the green spring swirls are cross-country and baseball. The curves wrap around the athletes and their gear, such as the volleyball and the golf ball.

Near the hockey player is a plaque on which words from a school essay LaFrance wrote are engraved: “Being an athlete means trying your hardest and going out every shift like it is your last.”

Visited 4 times, 1 visit(s) today