Art teacher creates inspirational memorial for the Olney community


Art teacher John Overman placed the sculpture he created at Olney Boys and Girls Community Sports Association (OBGC) September 8 to memorialize the passing of three local students.

The parents of late Magruder High School students Johnny Hoover, Spencer Datt, and Haeley McGuire, the students who lost their lives in a car crash by OBGC, reached out to Magruder art teacher John Ovington. They sought to create an inspirational art piece to memorialize the passing of their kids. Mr. Ovington suggested that Mr. Overman’s company, Overman Studios, design the sculpture. Having been a teacher at Blake, Mr. Ovington knew of Mr. Overman’s sculpting skills.

Taking Mr. Ovington’s advice, the parents then reached out to Mr. Overman and asked him to design the memorial, which would be financed by OBGC to honor the students. Overseeing this whole project was architect Victoria Swoop, who acted as an intermediate between OBGC, Mr. Overman, and the parents.   

The three students were members of OBGC and, having crashed close by, the news of their death had a great impact on the community. This accident goes for show how life can end in an instant. Mr. Overman adds, “[OBGC] wanted to make something that was an inspiration to other kids in terms of having them think about their lives and think about the limitations of their lives.”

The sculpture stands as a reminder to students, whose whole lives are ahead of them, to not take for granted the activities available in their community. Mr. Overman says, “I think that it’s really important that all the Blake students participate in activities that extend out into the community…not just contained within the school.”

Over the course of a year, Mr. Overman designed a variety of concepts to present to the families of the three kids. The parents suggested using doves in the sculpture to represent the children. So, with that in mind, Mr. Overman designed a six-foot sculpture of flames and three doves. “The flames represent the idea of [the] spirit of youth–the passion of youth,” he says, “and then the doves represent the passing of time and the three kids who passed.”

The final proposal was produced by Mr. Overman and alumni Michael Forsythe. Once Mr. Overman planned the dimensions for the pedestal that will hold the sculpture, the fabrication of the sculpture commenced in the spring.   

OBGC, being a community park that supports young people’s participation in sports, chose to display the sculpture in the center of the garden. “Obviously, in the OBGC field there’s a lot of kids playing in competitions,” says Mr. Overman. “And the hope was to inspire the kids to present all that effort in what they’re doing now because your time is limited.”