Southold sophomore Billy Bucci recalled the things he and his longtime friend Ronan Guyer used to do: play football, practice lacrosse in their yards, volunteer as boy scouts.
They would go sailing, racing each other at the Southold Yacht Club. Ronan always seemed to win, Billy said.
“He was always determined to do the best he could,” Billy said.
Ronan died one year ago today after suffering a heart attack during a practice run for the state cross country championships upstate. His sudden death send shockwaves through his close-knit class, and for months, his classmates mourned.
But a few months after Ronan died, the sophomore class got together and began brainstorming a way to honor the beloved teen, Billy said.
“He was a very loyal friend,” Billy said. “I don’t think anyone could ever remember anything mean he ever said.”
On Wednesday, the class finished the first step of their plans by planting a tree in memory of Ronan on the high school grounds.
About a dozen students — including freshman and upperclassmen — gathered around the small redbud tree as members of the sophomore student council and friends of Ronan dug a hole, set the sapling inside and filled and watered it.
The sapling was donated by Imbriano Farms in Southold, who also helped the students plant the tree. A plaque
The students are also planning to paint a mural in the school’s science wing for Ronan that will show the things he loved: snowboarding and mountains, yachts and a sunset and even a group of penguins.
Now that his tree has been planted, student will begin work on Ronan’s mural soon.
Special Education teacher and class advisor Kristen Derrigan said the plans were made entirely by the students.
“They’re the ones that scheduled the meetings, they’re the ones that said ‘we want to plant a tree,’ ” she said. “They’ve done it all … it’s genuinely from the heart.”