With traffic whizzing by on Memorial Drive to provide a grim reminder of why they were there, about 25 friends of Michele Micheletti planted a tree in her memory in New House's courtyard at dusk last Friday.
Ms. Micheletti, who would have graduated next month, was struck by two cars in 1997 while trying to cross from Memorial Drive's center island just east of New House to the river side on her way to dinner with friends on Halloween night. Ms. Micheletti, who lived in New House, died that evening.
"When we come back, the tree will always be here, and in a way, she will always be here, too," said Jacki Baskin, a senior in biology and New House friend of Ms. Micheletti's who helped organize the event with housemasters Ellen and John Essigmann.
Ms. Essigmann said the flowering crabapple was chosen because it blooms in April, the month Ms. Micheletti was born. The tree flourishes into the fall, with red-orange fruit and colorful foliage. Adding to the serenity, it will attract birds to the courtyard.
Several classmates sprinkled the tree bed with petals from a friendship plant presented to them by Ms. Micheletti during their first Christmas together. A friend placed a bouquet of purple irises, lavender mini-carnations and yellow lilies at the base of the sapling, which will grow to 20 feet with spreading branches in about 15 years.
The ceremony concluded with each friend shoveling dirt onto the area around the tree. Ms. Essigmann then placed a basket of posies nearby.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 10, 2000.