Staff at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School will kickoff a fundraiser Thursday in honor of one of three Peabody victims killed on 9/11. The proceeds from the event will go toward creating a memorial for her at the school.
Long-awaited plans are now underway to name and restore an exterior courtyard next to the school auditorium in memory of Christine Barbuto, a 1986 grad of PVMHS, and her late mother Maureen, who taught for many years at the school.
Barbuto, 32, was aboard American Airlines Flight 11 when it crashed into one of the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Two other Peabody victims: Janis Lasden and Donald DiTullio, also died that day aboard Flight 11.
PVMHS Assistant Principal Eric Buckley says the Committee for the Christine Barbuto Memorial Fund is seeking donations to create a memorial. Buckley co-chairs the committee with Jean Marchetti, the department head for family and consumer science, and a number of other teachers are in the group as well.
Thursday's event will be held from 4-6 p.m. in the cafeteria, the Melting Pot, at the high school. Admission is free and donations will be accepted. There will also be a raffle with prizes including an iPad 3 and a lottery board with $100 in tickets.
The School Committee offered unanimous support to the project earlier this month, waiving a district policy concerning the naming of memorials at the school. The standing policy states all memorials be named for either Peabody veterans, wars or branches of the military.
Committee member Beverley Griffin Dunne said she was fine with waiving the stipulation given the extradorinary situation, and her colleagues agreed.
“Christine Barbuto was a victim of the war of terrorism against [our nation],” said Dunne. “She is one of the very first victims of that war and I believe we would like to work it out to support and be in recognition of her sacrifice.”
“Christine’s older siblings are very excited about this,” said Buckley.
Both Barbuto's mother and father are now deceased, but her two sisters Jeannine Daly and Dianne Walsh live in Burlinton and North Reading, respectively, with their families.
A West Peabody native, Barbuto has been remembered by family and friends as a loving, caring woman, full of life, a good sense of humor and devoted to her family. At PVMHS, Barbuto was captain of the hockey cheerleading squad and a top student.
She went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in fashion and merchandising from the University of Rhode Island and was a buyer for TJX Cos. (the parent company of TJ Maxx and Marshalls stores) at the time of her death.
Barbuto was heading to LA to help open a new store for her company.
Outgoing Principal Edward Sapienza, who was still a teacher back then, didn’t know Barbuto personally, but he did know her mother (a fellow teacher) and her sister, who lived near him in North Reading. In fact, their families would often swap babysitting duties.
Buckley said former PVMHS student Andrew Mushrush, who owns a Peabody landscaping company (Down East Landscape Construction & Design), is already on the job reviewing the area and putting together a landscaping plan for the courtyard.
The project is to install a memorial garden in the courtyard on the east side of the school building. Construction should begin this spring and summer with a dedication ceremony in the fall, according to Sapienza.
The TJX Cos. have joined along with members of the PVMHS Class of 1986 to assist with the project, but Buckley and Sapienza indicated other donations would be graciously accepted to help defray the costs.