NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- When students returning for the first day of school Wednesday at New Canaan Country School spied a new hard top outdoor middle school basketball court, they enthusiastically grabbed balls and played for a few minutes before classes started.
The outdoor court also bears a new name: Kyle's Court, named in honor of Kyle A. Markes, a Country School student who died in December 2013 after a 13-month battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
He's the son of Jackque Mclean-Markes and Walter Markes of Stamford. His mother said the family was touched by the school and its families decision to honor Kyle with the new court.
"For our family it was just a wonderful dedication for the families here to put together and pay tribute to Kyle," Mclean-Markes said.
Her son had a vibrant personality and was always in the middle of a group of friends, she said.
"He was a kid full of humor and laughter and a sense of purpose He was just full of courage," Mclean-Markes said.
Kyle was an avid basketball fan, especially of Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma Thunder. The school also incorporated the Thunder's colors of blue and orange in the court in honor of Kyle.
"One of the things he that loved to do was play basketball and hang out with his friends, laugh and have a good time and this was just a perfect idea from these families to pay tribute and honoring him with this court," she said.
A private ceremony was held for the family for the unveiling of the court before Wednesday's opening of school.
Kyle's Grade 5 teacher Kristen Ball remembered him fondly.
"All the kids loved him, a sense of humor beyond words," Ball said. "He was so funny without trying to be funny, and he kept the whole class laughing all the time."
She had him in her classroom for only seven weeks in 2012 before he was diagnosed with cancer, but she said he was a huge joyful presence and made his mark.
"I feel like I can talk about him forever. He was a really good boy," she said. "It's devastating to lose a child, but to have a space where we can celebrate him is joyful and he would have loved that.
"He's with us and I know that."
Head of Middle School Kirsten Rosolen said the basketball court is an appropriate way to remember Kyle.
"It's a perfect place for us to go and remember Kyle and who he was and his spirit.
Mclean-Markes said the court will be a lasting memory of Kyle and a place where others will create new memories.
"It's a beautiful place for kids to come together laugh, have fun, create memories and it will be here for years to come to share with kids 20 to 30 years from now," she said. "We are just happy, and we are honored that this court is playing tribute to him."