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The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Members of school community remember Trey Brown III in ‘Alive Together’ walk

Mason+Walline+25+and+Alexa+Chang+25+carry+a+banner+in+memoriam+of+Trey+Brown+during+the+walk.
Connor Tang
Mason Walline ’25 and Alexa Chang ’25 carry a banner in memoriam of Trey Brown during the walk.

Members of the school community participated in the Didi Hirsch “Alive Together” walk at Exposition Park on Sunday, Oct. 1, where they walked to honor Trey Brown III ’25, who passed away in June. The event also featured speeches, live performances and a fair providing mental health resources to those in need.

Prior to the walk, President Rick Commons addressed the school’s participants about the ongoing process of mourning not only the loss of Trey Brown but also of Jordan Park ’25 and Jonah Anschell ’23 who passed earlier in the year. Donald Brown II, Trey Brown’s father, spoke after Commons about the positive impact of the community’s support on his family.

Commons said the Brown family’s openness in sharing Trey Brown’s story has allowed him and the community to better understand his life.

“We’ve been blessed by the opportunity to grieve with the family, who has opened their arms to the community and given us the chance to grieve with them,” Commons said. “This walk gives a chance [for us] to be active together, to celebrate his life and all he did at [the school] in his short time there. As short as it was, is tremendously meaningful.”

All participants walked one mile together and were encouraged to share stories about their loved ones to others. Eric Bigger, a mental health advocate for the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center, said the stories he heard have profoundly shaped his view on mental health and suicide.

“When you meet someone who’s really gone through it and you’ve experienced it firsthand, it shifts your paradigm on what mental health really is, opposed to the narrative and the perception around it,” Bigger said. “It’s easy to hear someone else talk about it, but when you go through it yourself or know someone who has, it changes everything.”

Following the walk, participants had the opportunity to learn more about a variety of mental health resources and organizations. Founder and CEO of Find Your Anchor, a non-profit organization dedicated to suicide prevention and awareness, Ali Borowsky said the walk gives people an opportunity to come together and be heard by one another.

“[The walk] lets people know that resources exist, and it’s the one-on-one conversations that have been so profound, because it lets people know that they’re not alone,” Borowsky said. “[Our non-profit] is all about strangers who care, because in the height of my troubles, my core belief was that no one cared. If strangers care about you, then maybe it won’t be so hard to believe that your friends and family do as well.”

Bigger said his past experiences with his loved ones and their mental health issues led him to advocate for suicide prevention with the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center.

“This past year, two people close to me were really going through it, saying they didn’t want to be here anymore,” Bigger said. “It freaked me out, like, woah, this is real, I [have] to do something about this. [Now,] I’m standing up, I’m speaking about it, I’m talking about it and I’m making people feel safe about coming out that don’t feel safe. We all need love, and I mean to bring the love and the joy, and I want people to know that they’re accepted no matter where they are despite their mentality and their thoughts.”

Commons said the community’s dedication to one another brings him optimism, despite his grief for the passed students.

“I’m sad and feeling joyful too,” Commons said. “Sad in remembering Trey, Jordan and Jonah but also joyful in the sense of community. [The walk] feels like this is just another echo of a number of things I have felt about the students, the parents and the whole school, in their ability to come together . Specifically focusing on Trey, the walk does make me happy even though I’ve shed a few tears this morning.”

The walk took place on what would have been Trey Brown’s 17th birthday. Donald Brown II said although his emotions were difficult to handle before the walk, the kindness of the school spoke to Brown III’s legacy as a valued member of the community.

“I was really scared about coming to this event because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep my emotions in check,” Donald Brown II said. “When I got here, almost immediately, everyone was so welcoming. Everybody, whether they knew Trey or not, had good things to say. We got to meet people who have said Trey touched lives, and as a parent who has a child, the biggest thing that you fear is that when your child leaves this earth, nobody will remember them. Trey left 13 weeks ago, and this turnout showed us that he made an impact.”

Donald Brown II said he wants students at school to know from his own experience the importance of communication, and the seeking of help when necessary.

“The biggest thing for me is communication,” Brown II said. “A lot of times we try to go through things ourselves, and try to be independent. We don’t want to bother other people. We take on things alone that we don’t have to take on alone. I know most of the time, parents fall short of making children feel like they can come to them with anything. I want kids to talk to their parents, talk to their friends, share their burdens, and I want parents to be receptive, not to be judgmental.”

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Connor Tang, Editor-in-Chief
Justin Tang, Print Managing Editor

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