It's been almost a year since an accident claimed the lives of two Greenbrier High School golfers.
Golf teammates Daniel Hall and Shane Williams died in an accident while driving to a tournament in Lincoln County on April 15 last year.
Though the accident left lasting scars on the hearts of family and friends, there also have been other permanent changes as the result of their deaths - a change in school transportation policy, the pending construction of a golf practice green and an annual scholarship that will be awarded to the student who best embodies Shane's spirit.
In the wake of their son's accident, Daniel's parents, Dan and Angela Hall, pushed for a change in the Columbia County school system's policy governing the way pupils are transported to school-sanctioned events.
"It gave us an opportunity to go back and look at the whole picture and the policies we had in place," said board member Wayne Bridges, who was board chairman at that time.
Six months after the accident, the school board approved a new policy that:
Requires schools to provide system-owned transportation or adult private transportation to all required school-sanctioned events
Allows a student to transport himself or herself and a sibling in a private vehicle for events fewer than 30 miles away
Prohibits students from transporting other pupils
The system also committed $601,550 to purchase 10 new buses to beef up its fleet for this purpose.
"Maybe we just tightened up the policy a little bit to put more control in the hands of the adults and take a little bit of the pressure off of these kids riding together," Bridges said. "Sometimes, some of the younger ones aren't as vocal and won't stand up and say, 'I don't like to go this fast."'
Current board Chairman Roxanne Whitaker said the new policy seems to be working, "as long as parents want to cooperate with us and utilize the bus transportation."
At the time the policy was adopted, Mr. Hall said he didn't feel the policy went far enough. Board member Lee Muns agrees.
"I think things are probably going the same as they were before that happened because we left it that kids could drive if parents wanted them to," Muns said. "The only thing that's different is there are not as many kids driving together."
A fund has also been established to create a putting and chipping green as a living memorial to the boys. The green will be behind Greenbrier High's softball field and will be constructed of 2,400 square feet of artificial turf. Mark Weinstein, a friend of the Williams family who has been heading the fund-raising effort, said $23,000 has been collected, and workers should be breaking ground on the project this month, pending school board approval.
"It's not a static memorial," Mr. Weinstein said. "It's something that can be used and enjoyed and hopefully will help to better golf at Greenbrier and in the community. It's something unique and different and something that will benefit kids in the future."
It is expected to take four to six weeks to complete.
"We hope to at least have the '04 seniors hit the first golf balls on it before they graduate," said Shane's father, Nick Williams.
Daniel and Shane would have graduated this year.
Shane's parents, Sharon and Nick Williams, also have started a scholarship in Shane's memory. The $1,000 scholarship will be awarded for the first time this year.
"It will not necessarily be the best golfer, but the one who had Shane's philosophy in life - works real hard as a team player and is really involved," Mr. Williams said. "It could be the worst player on the team but get the scholarship just because of his sportsmanship."
Donations for the memorial or the golf practice area can be sent to Greenbrier High School Booster Club Memorial Golf Practice Area, 5114 Riverwood Drive, Evans, GA 30809.
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