The missing pieces


Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.


— Alfred Lord Tennyson

The loss of three students in a matter of months has shaken our community. Brendan Kutler, Julia Siegler and Ishan Bose-Pyne each excelled in their own areas of interest and contributed greatly to our school. Their radiant attitudes were contagious and epitomized the Harvard-Westlake spirit. When they left us, we were all diminished.

Our grief was and still is neither rational nor measurable. It is emotional and unpredictable. Yet, however unique and personal our experience with grief seems, when our wounds were most raw we didn’t run towards solitude. We stood together to support each other.

It speaks to the remarkable strength of our community that students and teachers were able to enter the healing process together and regain a measure of strength.

We saw it not just as a tragedy for those who knew them best, but as a tragedy for the school as a whole. Together, we donned two hats for Brendan and wore purple for Julia and white for Ishan. Students signed a giant chess piece in memory of Ishan’s love of chess.

And so we work together, as a school, to mend the holes.

Ishan Bose-Pyne came to Harvard-Westlake as a sophomore. He immediately felt comfortable, his family said, in a community he embraced and that quickly embraced him. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.

His friends and teachers have attributed his immediate acceptance to both the community’s openness and Ishan’s desire to immerse himself in school life. It is students like Ishan that make Harvard-Westlake more than the sum of its parts. They help shape the student body into a unified group of people capable of praising one another when they succeed, comforting one another when they fail, and supporting one another in the face of tragedy.

We cry together, mourn together and celebrate together. We learn together, remember together and, in the end, we heal together.