Norwin band plants tree in memory of band member
Future generations of Norwin High School band members will have a living memorial to a 15-year-old band member who died last month from injuries he sustained in a fall from a rock outcrop in Somerset County.
Amidst tears from Nathan Kanczes’ family members and his fellow bandmates, a paper bark maple sapling was planted Wednesday in a solemn ceremony at a site adjacent to the asphalt lot where the band spends countless hours in practice.
“Nathan was a very important part of the band. We wanted to do something special since he had spent so much time here,” Melissa Davis, treasurer of the Norwin Band Aides, told more than 200 band members and family who gathered for the 15-minute tree planting ceremony.
In addition to the tree planting, Davis said the band boosters group intends to get a plaque in Kanczes’ memory that will be placed at the site, a symbol of him watching over his band family.
Bill Bojalad, Norwin Band Aides president, said it was appropriate that the band memorialize Nathan by planting a new tree.
“Nathan was an outdoorsman. This is the perfect tree to honor him,” Bojalad said.
Kanczes’ parents, William and Diane of North Huntingdon, along with his brother, Dylan, helped to dig the hole in the ground for the tree, followed by about 25 of Kanczes’ fellow band members. Davis and Bill Bojalad, president of the Norwin Band Aides, joined in planting the tree and covering the root ball with mulch.
When it came time to add the water, Bojalad commented that “we have enough tears” being shed to water the tree.
Kanczes, a rising sophomore honor student, was attending a YMCA wilderness camp at Fort Hill, Somerset County, when he fell an estimated 40 feet from Cove Rocks on July 15. It is near Mt. Davis, the state’s highest peak at 3,213 feet, and part of the Forbes State Forest.
Kanczes was flown by helicopter to Conemaugh Meyersdale Medical Center, where he died. Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller ruled that Kanczes’ death was an accident.
In addition to the tree planting and the memorial plaque, Bojalad said the organization wants to honor Kanczes with the commissioning a piece of music that would be played by the band. There is also discussion of creating a scholarship in Kanczes’ memory, Bojalad said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .