Mark Maples was a lifeline at John Barry Elementary School at 59th and Race streets. Maples passed in December after a battle with cancer, which rocked the entire school community. Maples, who was a father of four, died at 49 years old.
"I feel Mark here with us. I know he would want me to be strong, and be here, and make sure his legacy continues to live," his wife Deveda Maples said.
The festivities kicked off with the 76ers drum line, which Maples was a big part of. Several community members spoke about Maples' dedication to the students and his positivity.
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The school principal was excited to announce that Maples' legacy will always be remembered with three beautiful murals throughout the building. The art depicts various aspects of Maples' life and was commissioned over the summer.
"Students at John Barry wanted to restore the building by remembering him with murals. I promised the scholars who came back after the pandemic that we would have murals on the fourth floor and a ginormous one on the first," said Principal KaTeidra Argro.
Maples taught at Barry Elementary for 11 years as a digital literacy teacher and was with the Philadelphia School District for 18 years.
Students said he was known for many things, such as his artwork and always giving great advice. Maples' family and school community said the murals will forever keep his bright legacy alive.