By Matthew Sockol
FREEHOLD – A memorial has been proposed in Freehold Borough to honor a young man who died in January.
If the plan for the memorial is approved by municipal officials, it will be created at Veterans Memorial Park, Schanck Street, and dedicated to the memory of Waleed Warren, 17, who died in January during his junior year at Freehold High School.
The project was proposed by Zoe Frantzeskakis, a senior at Freehold High School, whose suggested design for the memorial includes a crepe myrtle tree which will grow to a height of about 10 feet. The tree will be surrounded by roses, azaleas and rhododendron.
Zoe explained her plan for the memorial during the Sept. 19 meeting of the Borough Council and she expanded on her comments in an interview with the News Transcript.
“The trees and plants (at the memorial) are deer-resistant and have been chosen to make sure that during all seasons of the year the memorial looks appealing,” Zoe said.
According to Zoe, the plants will be enclosed by plastic edging and mulch. She said her plan calls for a plaque bearing Waleed’s name to be placed under the tree.
The young woman said much of the inspiration for the memorial came from seeing students mourn the death of their friend.
“Although I was not one of Waleed Warren’s close friends, many of my friends were close with him, including my brother,” Zoe said. “This project was a reason to get everyone together. The hope (was) for his friends, classmates, teammates and peers to unite as one and use this memorial as closure.
“The passing of Waleed was something that was hard to fathom, but my hope for the project was to make something beautiful out of such a terrible situation.
“I hope that through the efforts of myself and the other students at Freehold, we can create a space in one of Waleed’s favorite locations where his friends and family can honor his memory,” she said.
To further honor Waleed’s memory, Zoe contacted representatives of the Faith Tabernacle Church, where the young man was a member.
“My main aspiration in reaching out to the church is to show the members that even though it has almost been a year since his passing, the students at Freehold High School will never forget him.
“Therefore, I have asked the church if I can help in any way possible, whether it be with landscaping, painting walls or even raising money for improvements. In my mind, there is no better way to honor Waleed than helping the place and people he loved,” she said.
Zoe said she expects to meet with the borough’s business administrator and engineer to work out details for the memorial, which she hopes may be completed before the end of the year.
Anyone who wishes to assist with the memorial may contact Zoe at firstname.lastname@example.org