February 27: Plans for the one year anniversary
This article was published by Adam Benjamin & Brooke Bender, Co-editors of The Hilltop Echo
As February 27, 2013 approaches, the plans for what will take place that day at Chardon High School are being finalized. The day marks the one year anniversary of the 2-27-12 tragedy that deeply affected the Chardon community and claimed the lives of three students, Danny Parmertor, Russell King Jr., and Demetrius Hewlin and injured three other students, Nick Walczak, Nate Mueller and 2012 graduate Joy Rickers.
Meetings to decide how to approach the day began in October and have been continuing ever since. Principal Andy Fetchik explained,“The main goal for the day is to remember our fellow classmates, but also to identify how far we’ve come. We will never forget the three students who died or the three who were wounded, but we also want to show how strong we are and see the good things that have come since this.”
On the evening of February 26, Chardon students will be performing a concert at St. Mary School. The concert will be an uplifting, positive, and non-denominational remembrance.“Music tends to make people feel better,” Principal Fetchik said about the event.
The following day on the 27th, Chardon High School will not be having a normal school day because of the significance of the day, but the normal start and end times will be in effect.“It needs to be a day of remembrance and reflection on the last year,”senior Jessica Fowle pointed out. Students will be able to participate in various activities in the morning in approximately 50 minute blocks, including making blankets for Project Linus, creating artwork, writing letters, and making leashes for therapy dogs. Every activity will be optional, but students will be required to stay with the group they sign up with the week before in order to keep the day organized. Junior Megan Whitney liked the idea that students can sign up to be in a group with their friends because “it will allow students to be with who they need to be with at the time. The best counseling often comes from friends.”
For lunch, the students will receive a free meal from Qdoba funded completely by donations to the Moving Forward Fund. Around the same time as lunch, students will also be given the opportunity to attend a community service fair, with groups offering students the chance to volunteer with organizations that they may otherwise not have known about. Animal shelters, Women’s Safe, and United Way are among the organizations that will be attending.
After lunch and the service fair, the day will be concluded with a school-wide walk to the square. Superintendent Joe Bergant and Principal Fetchik will be among those making speeches at the square. Fetchik says he hopes the walk will “prove that Hilltoppers are strong.”
“The square represents the heart of the community,” Whitney explained.“My biggest hope is that [the walk] will allow for more closure.”
The night of February 27, the city will be having a candlelight vigil on the square. Fowle said,“I really like the idea. I feel like it adds a more serious and emotional note to the day that will be specific to remembering everything about the 27th that needs to be remembered.”
On February 27, the school and community will be able to see how all the time and effort put into planning the day will be worth it. Donations from the Moving Forward Fund and other organizations allowed Chardon High School to plan the day without worrying about financial restrictions, and staff and students will surely appreciate this when the day comes.
When principal Fetchik was asked if he had any message to send to the student body about February 27, he confidently replied,“We can deal with loss and success. We can endure; we have endured; and we will endure. We want to recognize the lives lost and celebrate the students that have overcome this.”
Chardon’s One Year Remembrance Events include:
Tuesday, February 26
Chardon High School Commemorative Choir/Band Concert 7:00 p.m. at
St. Mary Church, North St. Chardon
(closed to media)
Wednesday, February 27
Day of Remembrance
Schools will be in session
(all school buildings are closed to media)
“Day of Service”begins at Chardon High School
Students, staff & first-responders begin Memorial Walk to Chardon Square
“Gathering for Remembrance and Renewal”on Chardon Square
Return walk to Chardon High School for refreshments and dismissal
Candle Light Vigil on Chardon Square – hosted by the City of Chardon
Memorial Concert by Chardon Methodist Church Choir at Park Auditorium
sponsored by the City of Chardon
(closed to media)
Chardon Youth Ministry Group Crave – Release of Lanterns on High School Grounds
(closed to media)