Cleveland community rallies to create memorial reading area for student who died in crash

Juan Pablo Ariza-Rozo

Southside Elementary School has always been a special place for students in Cleveland, Texas. It is even more special now with the addition of a beautiful reading area that was created in memory of a young student who loved to read and learn – Juan “Juanpi” Pablo Ariza Rozo.

On Aug. 8, Rozo, 7, died from injuries he suffered in a car crash on his way to school. His mother, Andrea Rozo, a Cleveland ISD educator for almost two decades, was driving Juan and his brother to school when a vehicle traveling in front of them on US 59 lost control and entered their lane of travel.

To honor Juanpi’s memory, Tammy Collums, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Southside, came up with an idea for the unique outdoor space where young students can fall in love with reading. The Juan Pablo Rozo Hammock Memorial Reading Area was born from this vision.

The love and support from the community has been amazing. Mike Cook of McCoy’s in Cleveland donated the materials for construction, and Grady Collums, the husband of the visionary behind the project, donated his time and expertise to bring the project to fruition.

The Collums’ 16-year-old grandson, Milo Psencik, offered his services to dig the post holes with his tractor and auger. Cleveland Rotary Club donated the hammocks for the reading area, and a bench was installed for teachers to model good reading habits to beginner readers. Ron’s Trophies in Cleveland donated an official plaque to commemorate the reading area.

Grady Collums also installed all additional hardware and extension chains, and an enclosure fence around the reading area was added. He also mounted outside hooks to store the hammocks when they are not in use.

“We are finished with this project and it is an exciting, engaging, and safe place for our students to read,” said Tammy Collums. “My Southside Elementary Principal, Mrs. Blankenship, has been another positive influence from the beginning to the end of this process. Her encouragement and support has been key in the success to Southside Elementary and she is excited to launch our new and beautiful The Juan Pablo Hammock Reading Area Memorial.”

On Thursday, Oct. 19, at 5:30 p.m., a dedication ceremony will be held for the Juan Pablo Ariza Rozo Hammock Memorial Reading Area at Southside Elementary, 303 E. Fort Worth St., Cleveland. The community is invited to take part in the ceremony. Light refreshments will be served.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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