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Ordway Elementary dedicates 'Counselor's Corner' in memory of Jeffrey McKinstry | Slideshow

Outside Ordway Elementary Tuesday, as the sun finally broke through rainclouds overhead, parents, children and educators gathered to dedicate a colorful memorial to former school counselor Jeffrey McKinstry.

McKinstry, who mentored students in Bainbridge School District for 12 years – seven at Ordway, was slain in October of 2007 at his home in Kingston. He was 53.

Now McKinstry's time at Ordway is remembered in a curved concrete bench dubbed "Counselor's Corner," after a column McKinstry wrote in the school's newsletter. The memorial stands near the school's front doors, where McKinstry used to take his post each morning.

"The location of this is wonderful," said Bruce Colley, who worked alongside McKinstry for eight years. "Jeff and I stood out here and greeted buses. It was truly a moment for us to connect with kids, greet kids, make sure that kids got their day off to a very, very positive start. And Jeff was just a master at that."

Ringing the Counselor's Corner bench are ceramic tiles depicting school buses and the Jolly Rancher candies McKinstry doled out liberally to students. A plaque bearing McKinstry's name reads: "Be the Difference," a gentle reminder to continue the counselor's positive influence.

Planning for Counselor's Corner began early in 2008. A 12-member committee raised $20,000 to complete the structure.

The memorial was dedicated Tuesday, with songs led by elementary students, and remembrances from McKinstry's colleagues and family.

"It really tells his story," McKinstry's brother Mike said.

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