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More to the Story: Construction

Reporting by Alayah Buman, Eddie Jiang, Daphne Karacay, Isobella Lecher, and Dean Simons

A Life Remembered

Reporting by Dean Simons

  The weekend before Thanksgiving break, students and members of the community gathered to celebrate the life of 2016 graduate Adam Dohn. 

    Adam passed away in October 2021, but left a lasting legacy to students, faculty, and the Corning community. “In high school, Adam became very passionate about rock climbing. He got interested because of his friends in English class. They started by climbing behind Wegmans on the shale cliffs by the railroad tracks, which was not a very good place for climbing,” Adam’s father Paul Dohn said. “After Adam’s passing, it came to me that having a safe place to learn how to climb with proper instruction and equipment would be beneficial. Other sports can be so limiting, so having another outlet for kids who don’t fit into other sports is great.”

    Once Adam’s family had the idea of a rock wall, they reached out to the school district administration. “When Mr. Dohn and his wife, Heather Boek, first approached me, I was incredibly excited. We’ve been talking about building a rock wall in the middle school for almost eight years, so when they brought the idea to me, I thought, ‘We’re finally getting one,’” Superintendent of Schools Michelle Caulfield said.    

After a fundraising campaign that brought in more than $80,000 from donors and community organizations, and the construction of the rock wall was completed, friends and family held a dedication on Nov. 19 in tribute to Adam. “Our family didn’t have a funeral for Adam. We had planned from the start to use the dedication of the wall as a remembrance. We had people travel from Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Alabama,” Paul Dohn said.
    Friends who Adam climbed with, including 2017 graduate Grayson Campbell, attended the ceremony. “Adam and I were good friends. We were in all sorts of things together, like Boy Scouts, running, and playing Dungeons and Dragons,” Campbell said.

    Over 250 community members attended the dedication, nearly double of what the family expected. “It was emotional. Climbing Club co-advisors Keith Fisher and Michael Simons were there and spoke about the importance of the wall, so it brought the school and community together to honor someone, but also create a legacy,” Caulfield said. 

    The next day, more than a dozen students from the new rock climbing club took their first climbs, with both Adam’s brother Peter Dohn and Campbell among the belayers at ground level. 
      “I think the Dohn family was hopeful that the memory and the legacy of their son would be about overcoming your fears and obstacles, as well as finding the joy in lifelong learning,” Caulfield said. “Climbing isn’t a team sport. You have to be able to use your mind and have this persistent attitude, like ‘you’re not going to let this defeat you and you’re going to keep going.’ I think for the Dohn family, that’s how they want Adam to be remembered.”

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