At Desert Vista’s graduation ceremony Thursday night, students honored the school’s late security guard Patrick (Pat) Quinn, who passed away early Wednesday morning while exercising at the school’s track. The graduating seniors, including myself, wore gold ribbons on their gowns in memory of Quinn, and asked staff members and those who attended the ceremony to do the same.

The ribbons, numbering in the thousands, were created at Desert Vista’s Nicole Kazan’s house Wednesday night by a group of the school’s students.

Emily Panther, another DV student who helped Kazan organize “Graduation Ribbons in Memory of Pat,” said that the project was created as a way for seniors to recognize Quinn and his contributions to students at Desert Vista.

“I felt like we needed to do something because Pat was so excited to see everyone graduate,” Panther said.

Just how much Pat Quinn influenced the community and the high school became apparent as news of his passing spread. Local residents who knew Quinn were drawn to the student-led ribbon project, and were more than willing to assist in any way possible.

“Donations from parents I don’t even know just arrived at my door,” Kazan said. “Ribbons, safety pins, and even food for the people helping to make ribbons.”

Like Kazan and Panther hoped, every senior graduated Thursday night while wearing a gold ribbon for Quinn, and as family members and friends entered the stadium, student volunteers passed out ribbons with the event’s program.

Students also organized another initiative in memory of Quinn. Realizing his Irish background, a group of students sold paper shamrocks at commencement for donors to hang as part of a memorial on the school’s track fence. Julia Thatcher, student body president at Desert Vista, suggested the idea, and on Thursday night alone “Shamrocks for Pat” raised $1,910.60 in his memory.

The incredible amount of student outreach demonstrates how much Quinn influenced Desert Vista. During her speech to the graduating Class of 2012, Principal Anna Battle mentioned the love and compassion Pat Quinn possessed that made him so popular.

“Each day Pat extended his warmth and love to everyone,” she said. “If anyone with a pet entered the gates of DV, (the pet) also received a treat from Pat.” A standing ovation for the family of Pat Quinn followed Dr. Battle’s speech.

All of the students and faculty at Desert Vista share Battle’s sentiments, and nearly everyone remembers Quinn as someone who always seemed to be smiling. The longtime security guard at Desert Vista would often greet students with a wave by the parking lot gates as they entered, even in rain or the heat of summer.

Tatum Dean, a senior at Desert Vista, remembers meeting Quinn as a freshman. For Dean, Quinn’s genuine care for the students made going to school each day that much more bearable.

“He will always be missed, remembered, and loved,” Dean said. “Pat was the No. 1 security guard at DV, and no one can replace him.”

During the many years Quinn worked at Desert Vista, he touched the lives of every student who walked through the school’s gates. His wave and smile each morning was part of what made Desert Vista a great high school, and his real care for the students will always be remembered and missed.

A memorial service will be open to the community starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 3 at the Grace Inn in Ahwatukee, 10831 S. 51st St., for anyone wishing to pay their respects to Pat Quinn and his family.

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