U-Nite: A night to remember

Sophomore students ignite candles and friendships at U-Nite 2016.

Photo Courtesy of Coqui Rodriguez

Sophomore students ignite candles and friendships at U-Nite 2016.

By Maya Rosenberg, Opinions Editor

The sophomore class held U-nite, an event meant to unify the CHS community after the passing of Alex Baumann and Maya Castillo in Hadley’s Park April 24.

U-nite was held on a perfect evening, with clear skies and a beautiful sunset matching the peaceful and content mood of those in attendance. There was a sense of camaraderie and healing in the air.

“I think this event was a long time in the making,” sophomore Class President Hana Mangat said. “After going through such tragic events, [the sophomore class] felt like we needed to give students an outlet for their emotion.”

While U-nite was organized to help students cope with the serious and devastating two recent suicides at CHS, there was a positive and uplifting atmosphere. Students performed poems and songs, and addressed people in their lives who they appreciated.

The event was organized by the sophomore class, however, students from all grades were invited and in attendance. There were student-run activities such as speed-dating and a three-legged race designed to introduce students to one another and form new relationships

“It’s cool to see the CHS community come together,” junior Jimmy Stempien said. “We’ve always been a community, but never in the same place for a common purpose.”

While members of the sophomore SGA were involved in planning U-nite, the event was not directly affiliated with Administration or CHS.

Administration was not allowed to be connected with the event in any way according to school policy. However, this did not stop the success of U-nite.

According to sophomore Coqui Rodriguez, who ran a free hug and advice station, U-nite was not weighed down by lack of affiliation with the school; instead it improved the event as it showed that CHS students are able to come together to host an event that unifies the school.

U-nite garnered mainstream media attention, as Donna St. George, a Washington Post reporter who specializes in MCPS education, was in attendance.

In addition, UMTTR, a suicide prevention and awareness group, held a table to educate people about signs of depression, and what students can do help their peers if they see those signs in them.

CHS has a direct connection to the UMTTR organization. In May of 2013, sophomore Evan Rosenstock committed suicide as a result of depression, leaving the CHS community shocked. In response, his mother Sue Rosenstock and other CHS families created UMTTR in order to prevent similar tragedies from occurring.

“It means a lot to see the community of students come together over a serious topic, but at a light-hearted event,” Sue said.

At the event, Mangat and other members of the sophomore class suggested that U-nite be made an annual event. In response, the crowd voiced their agreement enthusiastically through with claps and cheers.

According to Sue, there should be more events like U-nite where kids can be kids and relax, while also addressing important issues such as suicide awareness and prevention.

“U-nite has been a reminder that while I’m not directly related to Baumann or Castillo, the CHS community is a family,” junior Maddie Goldberg said.