Michael Kirlan watches as his son's former Soda Creek Elementary School classmates play guitars Thursday that were purchased in honor of his son, Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan, who died in a May 29 shooting.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Michael Kirlan watches as his son's former Soda Creek Elementary School classmates play guitars Thursday that were purchased in honor of his son, Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan, who died in a May 29 shooting.

Students honor past classmate with guitar concert

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— As Michael Kirlan sat in the audience, he smiled and was obviously happy watching his son's former classmates perform a concert in Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan's honor.

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Performance to honor Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan

Soda Creek Elementary School fourth graders perform "You Are My Sunshine" on Thursday during an assembly to honor their former classmate, Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan.

"I'm very honored they did this for him," Kirlan said after the concert at Soda Creek Elementary School. "He would have liked it."

Nearly 90 fourth-graders in several waves took the stage to play the 25 guitars that had been purchased for a new program aimed at promoting one of Asher's favorite hobbies.

"I like that we were honoring Asher and that a lot of people were having fun with it," said Carson Hooker, who was buddies with Asher.

Another group of fourth-graders will get to learn the instrument next year.

We're "keeping his memory alive by passing it along to the next fourth-graders," said Liam Catterson, who also was friends with Asher.

Asher's birthday was Monday. He would have been 10 years old.

Asher died after being shot May 29 at his Stagecoach home. His mother, Lisa Lesyshen, has been charged with the killing.

The Steamboat Springs and Soda Creek community has been trying to heal ever since.

"Time definitely helps," Soda Creek Principal Michelle Miller said. "We've just been supporting students and teachers through the year when things come up."

Miller said Thursday's concert felt like a celebration, but for some kids, it was a reminder that brought back sadness.

"Overall, the kids did great," Miller said.

Students wore purple, Asher's favorite color, and played songs that included "Eleanor Rigby" by the Beatles, "You Are My Sunshine" and the "Hokey Pokey."

Guitars were purchased for the Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools through fundraising. A woman from Denver, who wished to stay anonymous, donated 25 guitars after seeing a news story about the fundraising on CBS4. Another $5,000 was raised from local and national donors, Miller said.

Jim Lambert, a local craftsman, donated his time to make two stands for the schools to store the guitars.

"We're really glad that this will be a lasting program that will continue at our school," music teacher Jake Gasau said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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