Mount Vernon, N.Y. – Officials in Mount Vernon unveiled the newly renovated Graham Elementary School grounds with a bench dedicated to the memory of Shamoya McKenzie, the 13-year-old girls basketball star who was shot and killed in the city on New Year’s Eve, Thursday morning, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
This was a partnership between a neighborhood association and the science students to manage the garden.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard W. Thomas, Schools Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton, City Councilman André Wallace, School Board President Lesly Zamor, School Board Vice President Adrianne Sanders and Trustee-elect Israel ‘Yac’ Williams were joined by friends, family and coaches of McKenzie’s as they dedicated a city park that includes a playground, community garden, athletic fields and a basketball court, to the slain teen basketball star.
“I have to have some solace in believing she had a purpose; a purpose to serve as an ambassador to peace. We as a community cannot keep burying our children,” Dr. Hamilton said. “After Shamoya (McKenzie) been buried and the flowers are gone and we returned to our normal lives, we must remember Shamoya (McKenzie) as an ambassador to peace. Her death must not be in vain.”
An emotional Nadine McKenzie, mother of Shamoya wipes her eyes as she thanked everyone; ” We want to thank the mayor, Superintendent Hamilton, Councilman André Wallace, coaches Murray, Coach Dwayne and especially Coach Yac, I really thank you, you were the last one to have Shamoya, working so hard to go to UCONN.”
“Now when we think about what excellent looks like, we look back here,” President Zamor said pointing back at the park at the dedication. “And around us, we will say this is what excellence looks like. If we expect the best out of our children, then we have to create the environment and give them the tools in which to exceed and reach their full potential and that’s what it’s all about.”
The park dedication included a Bench donated by Trusco Building Supply and Garden Center (47 Grove St.) Frank Trolio of Trusco drove all the way to Pennsylvania to have the stone for the bench engraved. Councilman Wallace, a contractor by trade, assisted Trolio in the installation of the bench.
“I wanted her to be never forgotten,” Trolio tells BW, “this stone bench will tell her story to future children about her and how talented she was.”
A star for both the Mount Vernon Junior Knights, Lady Elites and the High School JV Lady Knights, McKenzie had dreams of attending the University of Connecticut to play under coach Geno Auriemma before making her way to the WNBA. She wore number 30 because she wanted to be like NBA two-time champion Stephen Curry.
“We understand today that there’s a real purpose for all of us here today, that we not only celebrate an amazing new park that’s ging to be available to Mount Vernon, available to our kids to inspire them,” Mayor Thomas said at the dedication,”But this is the beginning of the end of that chapter of Mount Vernon’s history where you always wonder what’s going on? Now the new chapters will be about what Mount Vernon is doing to move forward.”
Shamoya would have graduated from Graham Elementary, Monday, June 19th.
The ceremony was to highlight the district’s continued progress in the 20/20 vision and bond.