Christopher Robinson came to Harvard-Westlake as a ninth grader and became ill just a few months later. He knew some of his junior classmates but not all. Yet students who had never met or interacted with Chris were moved by his death, moved to a place of sympathy, compassion and sorrow.
Students were upset when the administration did not plan an immediate community-wide ceremony acknowledging Chris’ death. This is how a strong community responds to loss and tragedy. We banded together to support each other after Brendan Kutler, Julia Siegler and Ishan Bose-Pyne’s deaths. Students donned two hats in honor of Brendan. They wore purple and slowed down for Julia. They dressed in white in remembrance of Ishan.
Each class at the Upper School now stands incomplete. The holes are too large to fill, but the help of the entire community can begin to heal what is torn by tragedy. We stand united, helping each other through pain. Yet after each death, it is easy to fall back into our selfish ways, neglecting our community. A few weeks ago, students were pushing through the first quarter, heads down and wholly concerned with themselves. Sophomores were consumed by the transition to the Upper School, juniors by the overwhelming workload of 11th grade and seniors by the endless college applications. But in a time of crisis, we came together. Monday morning, a table in the quad overflowed with baked goods. Students raised an unprecedented amount of money in support of the Robinson family. Our compassion should be inherent and unwavering. It should not require a trigger, especially one as devastating as death.
Realize that the community you are a part of needs you, even in the ordinary times of high school. You do not always have to compete. Grades and college applications are important, but they should not consume you. Remember how you comforted each other after Chris’ memorial on Monday. Be there for your friends, your peers and your teachers. Always.