The slight breeze blowing through the CCHS courtyard didn’t help the chills filling everyone in attendance as they choked back tears during each performance at the Hobin Memorial Garden. Fairy lights strewn into tutus and glitter makeup were observed among the crowd of people who came back to school at 7 that evening to celebrate the life of the energetic CCHS teacher Nicole Hobin.
An effort to embody the spirit that was Nicole Hobin was clearly shown. Unicorns, being the late teacher’s spirit animal and favorite creature, became a sort of theme of the night.
Many of the speeches referenced her almost uncanny resemblance to the magical animal. CCHS English teacher and close friend of Hobin, Wendy Schauben, mentioned her “talking in her Hobin way” with a type of “unwavering almost annoying optimism” that seemed to parallel her own.
Everyone was given the chance to speak up at the podium in front of the garden. Anyone wanting to share the effect Hobin had on their lives was able to and many seized the opportunity.
Steve Franzone, the adviser of Interact, spoke of how her influence will be carried on though she is gone.
“I know that because of how many people she touched, a part of her will be spread out into the world through all of you,” Franzone said.
Interact President Lauren Nassi gave a brief history of the garden. Originally built to provide a peaceful place for students after the tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February, the garden lacked an official name since its construction. Then, when the news of Hobin’s passing spread, it was decided that the garden would be dedicated to and named after her.
At this point, there had been many laughs caused by a disruptive Bluetooth speaker that would reconnect and play an energetic song in the most somber of moments. But it didn’t seem to truly bother the crowd as it was such a Hobin thing to do– just keep on laughing.
Though the speaker may have disrupted senior Sofia Valdez, who had been speaking at the time, the weight of her speech resonated with the crowd as she shared Hobin’s influence on her life.
“She was more of my friend than my teacher,” Valdez said. “I’m going to graduate for her, I am going to college for her, I am going to medical school for her, I am going to show that her loud and colorful spirit lives on.”
After the open floor of speeches closed, students and staff roamed the garden while viewing pictures of Hobin clipped along the fence, which was lined with artificial candles. Once the garden had been viewed, the group migrated over to the jacaranda tree taking root in the courtyard for one final speech.
The tree, donated and dedicated in Hobin’s honor, is symbolic of how she wished to be reincarnated once she passed. She spoke of her dream of being a tree, something that was somewhat achieved on the CCHS campus.
English teacher and close friend of Hobin, Fallan Patterson, closed the ceremony with a final tear-jerking speech. As Patterson referenced how she always captivated a room with her “high pitched voice and a wide smile,” along with the Hobin appeal– her ability to get what she wanted with just a smile– the crowd listened on in respectful silence.
“This Jacaranda tree may be skinny and awkward now but when it matures and blooms, it will embody all the best parts of Ms. Hobin,” Patterson said.
A moment of silence was held before everyone moved to place their candles along the base of the tree. Then, they stood there in a silence interrupted only by murmurs of comfort and sniffles, no one wanting to be the first to leave the circle.
After about five minutes, it was announced that the ceremony was over and everyone was free to stay or leave as they wished. The crowd still stayed unmoving.
“It was really important for us to do this,” junior Natalie Doherty said. “It helps to bring awareness to how much she meant to us and how she is still here in spirit.”
Disclaimer: Fallan Patterson is also the adviser of The Lariat.
Photo by Genna Nordling