Tree Planting Ceremony Set


ST. LOUIS – A tree planting ceremony in memory of Maryville University student Tony Vricella, who died in February, will take place at 12:30 p.m., Thursday, April 26, on the walkway between Duchesne and Mouton residence halls.

A tree also will be planted in memory of physics faculty member Michael Johnson, Ph.D., who passed away on April 13, 2007. The families of Vricella and Johnson will attend the ceremony, and all faculty, staff and students also are invited to attend.

Vricella, a senior business administration major, succumbed to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on February 21, at age 23. Tom Bratkowski, Ph.D., professor of biology at Maryville and assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, taught Vricella in his environmental science class, and, upon hearing news of his death, contacted his family with the offer to plant a tree in his memory. The tree will be paid for by Maryville’s John E. Simon School of Business.

Bratkowski said Vricella was one of his favorite students, because of his superb class participation. “He was a bright kid, a pleasant person, always willing to contribute to class, the kind we like to have at Maryville,” said Bratkowski. “He was always quick to volunteer with his best answer when I asked a question. I appreciated that as a teacher, because he broke the silence and started the discussion, so I didn’t have to end up answering my own questions.”

Bratkowski expressed his deep sorrow at Vricella’s death, sympathizing with the deceased’s family, both as a father and a professor. “He [Vricella] fought a tough battle and in the end, he didn’t make it,” said Bratkowski.

Of the tree planting, Bratkowski said, “as a biologist, it’s kind of a [symbol for the] continuity of life; life ends and life continues. It seems like the right thing to do.”

The row of trees stretching between Mouton and Duchesne halls currently numbers nine in memory of deceased Maryville students.

– by May Ashour, student writer, Marketing and Public Relations