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Reading garden dedicated
Reading garden pic
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Nov. 3 at Blacks Mill Elementary School for the John Wayne Memorial Reading Garden. Bobbie Jo Corcoran, mother of the former student who was killed last year in a hunting accident, and Tim Trask, manager of Home Depot, participated in the ceremony. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

John Wayne Corcoran was not always a great reader.


“He didn’t like it,” said his mother, Bobbie Jo Corcoran. “But people were always encouraging him to read, and the next thing you know, he was reading like crazy.”


John Wayne was a fifth grader at Black’s Mill Elementary School when he was killed in a hunting accident about a year ago.


But his legacy will live on at the campus where he gained his loved for reading in a memorial dedicated to Black’s Mill’s “best reader.”


“He was a big reader with big dreams,” said Ann Lott, a former media professional at the school.


Lott and John Wayne shared a dream of having a reading garden at the school that allowed students to read outside where their imaginations could soar as stories on the pages came to life.


Bobbie Jo Corcoran said the memorial is a fitting dedication to her son, who initially struggled with reading.


“John Wayne loved to read outside and loved to be outside with a book. It’s exciting to see now that he’s going to help everybody else with their reading,” she said. “It’s going to be pretty awesome.”


The school received a grant from The Home Depot to fund the garden’s construction. A local landscape architect donated the design.


“One of our core values at Home Depot is giving back. We believe very much in being community partners, and we cannot think of a better way to show our appreciation for the community than by doing something as nice as this,” said store manager Tim Trask. “I have two small children and they love to read as well. This is pretty special.”


The project is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving.