Teesa Rowsey's legacy is etched into a plaque in the garden of her former high school, although few at the school remember her or the circumstances of her death.

In Teesa's Garden at Rancho Cucamonga High, 10 rosebushes and plaques mark the premature deaths of students, beginning with Teesa, who was hit by a car and died nearly 12 years ago.

"It's important, just knowing they were students here and they are remembered and cared about," senior Valarie Daugherty said.

Such "grieving gardens" are springing up at high schools across the country as students seek closure and administrators grapple with how best to honor dead youths. Born of tragedy, the main force behind the gardens has been students and grieving parents.

In San Diego County, a "peace garden" is being built at Santana High School in Santee to honor two students killed when a classmate went on a shooting rampage in 2001.

"It's intended to be a healing garden," said Catherine Martin, spokeswoman for the school district. "The focus is not covering up but remembering what happened and the sanctity of human life."

Some school districts have decided against such memorials, fearing they could lead students to consider suicide to get attention. Others have created gardens with a wider scope, in some cases to remember teachers who retired.

Richard Lieberman, who oversees the suicide-prevention program for the Los Angeles Unified School District, said he has warned against erecting plaques, especially for students who killed themselves.

"One thing you have to be careful with kids is that they are open to imitative behaviors," Lieberman said.

Teachers at Ashland High School in Ohio opted for a Zen garden with one plaque to honor all dead students after a fire killed one and injured others over Christmas break in 1997.

It reads: "They live forever in the hearts of those who love them."

"We didn't want kids thinking, 'My name could be next,' " said Eric Mayer, who teaches in the horticulture department, which maintains the garden. "We didn't want to make it a cemetery."

A "remembrance garden" at Lewiston High School in Maine is an oasis of about 2,000 tulips, daffodils and other flowers. Bricks in the garden include the names of retired teachers and those who wished to be remembered for various reasons.

"We tried to put the focus on life and not death," teacher Joan Macri said. "It's a cycle of continual rebirth. In Maine, we have a long winter. But all you have to do is look at the tulips, and there is hope that summer is going to be here."

Native trees, shrubbery and flowers line the 50-by-100-foot memorial garden at Summit High School in Frisco, Colo., where plaques honor individual students.

Students proposed the memorial after seven of their roughly 600 classmates died from illness and accidents in nine months.

"The kids could never really express what it was about," parent volunteer Prudence Bishop said. "I think perhaps they had the feeling that if something happens to me, at least someone will know that I was here."

In Rancho Cucamonga, Teesa's Garden went largely unnoticed until January, when students Christopher Heyman, 17, and Blake Harris, 18, were shot to death. A few weeks later, freshman Feofakki "Aki" Tuitupou died in a car accident.

"When you have a tragedy, you want to make sure that your students understand that you really care about their loss, whether it be moments of silence or the tradition of the garden," assistant principal David Munoz said. "There is a time to feel sad."

A plaque for Blake Harris, who was shot to death in January, is among 10 memorials in Teesa's Garden at Rancho Cucamonga High. Andrea Mason, a senior at Rancho Cucamonga, smells the roses in Teesa's Garden, created in memory of student Teesa Rowsey, who died in a car accident nearly 12 years ago.