Montroyal Artwork Unveiled

Montroyal school unveils artwork May 29

Those who met Quinn Keast say it would be hard to forget him.


MAY 21, 2008

Those who met Quinn Keast say it would be hard to forget him.

They were touched by how humble, thoughtful and honest he was, remarkably so for a boy his age. He was a teen who wasn't embarrassed to hug his mom at basketball practice or look out for kids who were bullied. As a child he was willing to forgo a Jollyrancher candy so someone else in the class could have one.

Quinn faced challenges with grace, worked hard and lived life with no regrets.

But what really speaks of his character is that years after graduating from his elementary school, his Grade 4 teacher, still touched by the mark he left behind, wanted to do something to honour this student who died on the eve of his high-school graduation, June 11, 2006.

Gail Mulder says she wanted something to make his family proud, something that would be a lesson for children at Montroyal elementary, which Quinn attended from kindergarten to Grade 7, and something that would be permanent.

"We think he's a great role model for students here," says Mulder. "The Montroyal school theme words are 'work hard, play hard,' and Quinn really epitomized that."

To remember Quinn, the school commissioned a stained glass panel to be placed at the entrance of the school. The three-panel work will be officially unveiled on May 29 at 4 p.m. when people who knew Quinn gather to remember his life.

The panel is made up of three parts. The centre panel, which is about 24 inches wide by 24 inches tall, depicts a detailed portrait of Quinn in his Handsworth basketball uniform. The slightly bigger windows on each side of the main one have Remembering Quinn written on one and Live Hard, Play Hard on the other.

It took about 200 hours to finish the stained glass panel, says artist Debbie Hungle. She and fellow artist and business partner Michelle Mason of Mad About Glass worked together on this piece for about a year for a modest fee.

Although Hungle didn't know Quinn well, her son coached him all through his baseball years. "Quinn just had such a good attitude to life and to overcome things. He had some challenges in life, which people didn't know, because he worked so hard to get around it," she says. "It just made him outstanding."

To get the profile just right, the artists photographed a boy of about Quinn's size, a basketball player from Handsworth, from quite a few angles. But to match his features as closely as possible, Quinn's mom would come by the studio to help with the project.

"My husband Tom and I sat down with the artist and the teachers, because they were concerned about getting the right image of Quinn shooting with the right colours of the uniform, so we went through that process with them -- which was tough but was good for us," says Jan Keast.

She recalled being overwhelmed and honoured when she first found out about the project. "It brought back the kindness of this community for me and how they have supported us through this nightmare of ours, and they still are."

One of the reasons people were drawn to her son and why they are still touched by him is because of how much he valued life, and how open he was. "He kept a diary for the last five years of his life and he would write in it at the end of the day: 'Today was the best day of my life, I lived it with no regrets.'"


And he inspired others to do the same. "It's not such a big deal for people to say I love you anymore. I see his friends and Jaimie's (Quinn's twin sister) friends the difference in them all, see them hugging and patting them on the back.

"He wasn't that much different from most kids, he just didn't mind saying what he really felt."

For more information on Quinn's legacy and upcoming events visit the Quinn Keast Foundation at

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Jamie KeastComment