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Scout installs Alison Council memorial benches
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Eagle Scout candidate Jake Turner of Ripon Troop 414 installed the Alison Council memorial benches at Ripona School during the past summer. Council’s husband and Ripona School principal Warren Council is seen seated with two members of the Ripon Soroptimist Club, Connie Jorgensen and Diane Ratto. - photo by GLENN KAHL/ The Bulletin
RIPON -  Troop 414 Boy Scout Jake Turner provided the manpower to install memorial benches in concrete around several trees as  a memorial to the late Alison Council who served as an advocate for the Ripona Elementary School  student body.

School principal Warren Council introduced Turner before a school assembly last week and publicly thanked him for his organization of the workers who installed the three benches.

Two members of the Ripon Soroptimist Club, Diane Ratto and Connie Jorgensen, were also present for the event.  Their club paid for one of the $1,257 benches that were erected around one of three trees.  The school’s parent teacher group turned out workers as well in a field day prior to the end of the year that saw the trees planted in the difficult hard pan and paid for a portion of the overall memorial tribute to Mrs. Council.

Turner was using the bench project to reach the rank of Eagle Scout.  Fifteen other scouts and family members – along with several Lions’ Club members - helped with the construction work.

The memorial effort was a yearlong program designed by Ripona teachers Pam McClure and Kim Johnson who experienced the selfless devotion that Alison Council had constantly displayed toward the children at Ripona School – even during the very trying times of her illness.

Mrs. Johnson told of Council coming into the eighth grade classroom every year to help with the music.  She had lost her hair because of her chemotherapy treatments and came in wearing a hat on a very hot day.

“It’s so hot in here, it’s too hot to wear a hat,” she was quoted as telling the students, flinging off her hat and unmoved in showing her balding head.  

“She taught us how to sing and how to sway,” Johnson told the assembly of kindergarten through eighth grade students.  The teacher added that Council taught us no matter how bad we feel to take our hats off and to put a smile on our faces.

The Ripona principal told his students that he wants them to always enjoy the memorial on the playground while they take time out to just sit in the shade and chat with each other.  

“We don’t want to do anything to harm the trees or the benches – they belong to us – we want them to last,” Council said.

The memorial marker mounted by the center tree read: “Alison’s gift of kindness, inspiration, fellowship and love of life lives on under these beautiful trees.”

Also etched in the marble stone was a quote from Helen Keller.

“The best and the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, not touched, but are felt in the heart.”