School dedicates tree to honor former student

School officials and students at Cranston High School West dedicate a tree in honor of George Vessella, a student who was stabbed to death in 1996.

School officials, students and others at Cranston High School West on Friday dedicated a tree in honor of a student who was stabbed to death.

George Vessella was entering his senior year when he was stabbed to death by John Catalano in August 1996. Police said Catalano had invited Vessella and a friend into his Johnston apartment and then killed him.

"The image I have in my head unfortunately is of the knife that killed my son. Now I'll have a different image and that makes me happy," said Linda DiLibero, Vessella's mother.

The school planted a tree to honor him 18 years ago, but that tree died and had to be removed. A second tree was recently planted.

"His first tree lived as long as my son, 18 years," DiLibero said.

School officials said it was important to remember Vessella, and set an example of character at the school.

"We like to make sure that we remember our fellow alumni and this is a nice way to commemorate our Falcon alumni," said Principal Thomas Barbieri.

"It was very important to us to play an instrumental role in remembering George as well as our Arbor Day ceremony, and it's always great to give back and to include the community members and alumni who have gone through Cranston West," said Assistant Principal John Fontaine.

DiLibero was pleased.

"His favorite color was cranberry and this is going to be a cranberry-colored tree," she said.

"He was a nice, nice kid. A good boy, and not because he was my son other people have told me this, he was a good kid. He really was."