PLATTSBURGH — Zhe and Ke Huang Xiong hope to ensure that other students experience the pleasure of attending Seton Catholic Central School, as their son once did.
The couple, who live in China, have created the Chu “Allen” Xiong Memorial Scholarship in honor of their son, who, along with Dat T. Ong of Vietnam, was killed in a vehicle/pedestrian accident in Peru in the fall of 2011, shortly after they had begun their studies at Seton.
Zhe and Ke have pledged to donate $50,000 to Seton Catholic annually for three years.
They announced the donation at a recent ceremony held at the school in memory of Chu and Dat, according to a media release from Seton.
The gift, totaling $150,000, is the largest ever received by the institution.
“Chu loved this school, and we want other students to be able to come here and share in what Chu found so welcoming and wonderful,” his parents told ceremony attendees via a translator.
“Even though he was only here a short time, he made friends quickly with both international and American students.”
Since the tragic crash, in which teens Brandon Sorrell of Peru and Samantha Donah of Plattsburgh were also killed, Chu’s parents have made an annual journey to Seton Catholic from their home in China.
“He was an only child, so his mom and dad come overseas on the anniversary every year,” Crotty said.
FOR LOCAL FAMILIES
The family specified that the scholarship money be used to help local families in need of tuition assistance, Barbara Crotty, director of advancement at Seton Catholic, told the Press-Republican.
The school, she added, is in the process of coming up with the best way to do that.
“Out of all this terrible sadness, these parents have found a way to honor the memory of their son,” Seton Catholic Principal Cathy Russell said in a statement prepared for the Press-Republican.
“Their love for Seton, where Chu Allen was so happy, will now be able to be shared with American families who might not otherwise have had the opportunity.
“This scholarship is huge for us, but it also reinforces the good work being done by the Seton Catholic community, the four pastors and the parishioners of the four core parishes who sacrifice a lot to keep us going.”
In addition to the scholarship announcement, this year’s anniversary was also marked by the dedication of a memorial to Chu and Dat on the school campus.
“The entire student body was present, as well as the priests from the parishes in the community,” Crotty said.
The memorial, located in front of Seton Catholic, comprises a plaque, two benches, two white hydrangea trees and landscaping.
“That is where the young men would sit and socialize when classes were not in session,” Crotty said.
The Student Council raised more than $2,000 in donations to fund the project, she noted, with several area businesses providing either money or supplies.
Students also spoke at the ceremony, Crotty added, honoring and sharing their memories of Chu and Dat.
“It was a lovely dedication,” she said.
Email Ashleigh Livingston:firstname.lastname@example.org