School seeks donations for brick path to honor family who died in house fire last year

School seeks donations for brick path to honor family who died in house fire last year
Courtesy Photo

Donations are being accepted for a brick path outside Conestoga Elementary School in Murray, Nebraska, that honors a family of six killed one year ago Friday when the family’s home was destroyed in a fire.

The path leads to the Mike and Michelle Speer Family Performance Area, which includes a pavilion adjacent to Conestoga’s Cougar Hollow outdoor classroom, said Principal Eric Dennis.

Mike and Michelle Speer, both 36, and their four girls — Elli Perez, 11; Adilynn, 7; Emma, 5; and Anniston, 2 — died Oct. 20, 2016, when a fire destroyed their two-story home in rural Nehawka in Cass County. The three older girls attended Conestoga.

“The girls loved music and they loved to sing and dance,” Dennis said. “Nature is the theme of our outdoor classroom, and that reflects the Speer family, too, because the girls loved to hunt and the girls loved to fish with their dad.”

Dennis said the addition of the performance pavilion was made possible by a donation from the Michelle Speer Family Foundation that was matched by Union Pacific Railroad, where both parents worked. A fountain was installed Thursday.

Four swings, one for each girl, were also installed. Six trees, one for each member of the family, have also been planted.

“The area includes a lot of symbolism,” Dennis said. “It’s a great spot to sit, enjoy nature and reflect.”

For $75, a brick on the path will be engraved with a donor’s name. To order a brick, submit payment and the engraving request to Conestoga Elementary, 104 E. High St., Murray, NE 68409.

For more information, contact Dennis by email at

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