By Jessica Steger, Editor in Chief
The memory of Christopher Dietel will be forever etched into the Silver Lining Arts Center.
The teachers and classmates of Christopher Dietel, a West Bend West High School sophomore who died by suicide last August, have raised funds to purchase a memorial seat in the auditorium. The plaque on seat L118 will read, “In Loving Memory of Christopher R. Dietel,” and will be installed Thursday.
The memorial was purchased through the West Bend Public Schools Foundation seat sponsorship program.
Kristie Wagner, an East science teacher, came up with the idea to purchase a seat.
“We had a staff meeting that talked about the West Bend Schools Foundation seat sponsorship and that was the first thing that came to mind, was to do something to remember Chris,” Wagner said.
From there Wagner worked with counseling to reach out to Dietel’s former teachers to help with donations.
“A lot of people have donated, it’s been good overall,” Wagner said. “Some of my friends and family have even donated towards it. So there’s been a lot of support.”
Danielle Konstanz, a West English teacher and Dietel’s former resource teacher, has gotten students involved as well. Her resource raised $70 for the seat.
“I expanded it to our resource because we do have his sister still with us and he was a part of our resource, and I wanted them to have that opportunity to remember their classmate,” Konstanz said. “Even kids that cannot afford it have come up to me and have just said that they still think of him, and they wish they could contribute, but they’ll remember him.”
“I think our main goal is just to remember Christopher in a way that is positive.”
– Danielle Konstanz, West English teacher
Dietel was part of the WBHS band, so Konstanz sees a memorial seat in the auditorium as a fitting way to remember him.
“I think our main goal is just to remember Christopher in a great way and a way that is positive,” Konstanz said. “I don’t think that we can honor him a better way than to have a memorial seat for him in the auditorium where the band will play for years and years to come. And I think that’s a great way to celebrate his life and something he loved.”
Wagner, too, hopes that the seat will keep the memory of Dietel alive.
“I hope it encourages conversations, and for people to talk about the memories they have of Chris and how they got to know him, and just think about the positives,” Wagner said. “And talk about the bigger issues at hand, and the issues that go on in schools. I mean, I have no idea what he was going through and we never know what anybody is going through. So just starting conversations about that and to encourage a community feeling and for people to support each other.”
Dietel’s sister, West sophomore Samantha Dietel, has been feeling the community’s support.
“I think that it’s really wonderful what they’re doing, and it shows how important my brother really was to other people and how he impacted them,” Samantha said. “Even if he didn’t really realize it.”
(Photo by Jessica Steger, Editor in Chief.)
3 responses to “West Bend Students and Staff Honor Fallen Classmate”
How can I donate? How much more is needed?
The seat has been fully covered! My husband and I put in the remaining amount to reach the $250 donation level for our contribution, so more donations aren’t necessary. I’m so glad we could do this to remember your grandson!
Thank you so much!