Music filters down to the second floor of Slayter Hall as students climb the stairs to The Roost—it’s a familiar scene, even on a Thursday night. Less typical are banners of wide, white paper along the foot of the staircase and along the back wall of the third floor above.
These are “friendship banners,” a kind of interactive sympathy card, and they’re just one part of the event that Brett Reiter ’14 put together last Thursday as a way for the Denison community to reach out to his hometown of Chardon.
We’ve all heard about the tragedy there, but Brett knows that this small northeastern Ohio town is also a place of joy and good memories … and music. So even as he tried to process what had happened at his former high school, he knew he had to organize a concert in response. “It was just something I knew I had to do,” Reiter says simply.
His friends and fellow students knew what to do, as well. From traditional a cappella singing groups like the Hilltoppers and DuWop, to the student band Osage, and the time-honored improv comedy troupe Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company, acts totaling eight in all were quickly confirmed. The last duo slated to perform was the only non-Denison act of the line-up—Kylie Weaver and Kayla Weaver (no relation) from Chardon.
Students, faculty and staff turned out to listen, applaud, and participate—President Knobel was even called onto stage by the Hilltoppers to join, as he often does, in their signature finale. Many in attendance wore red, one of Chardon’s school colors, to show support and solidarity. The music and comedy made for a joyous atmosphere, and cash and checks flowed in for the Chardon Angels of Hope Memorial Fund—a fund created to support the families of the victims.
The “friendship banners” filled through the evening with multicolored handwritten notes. The inscriptions ranged from hopeful poetry to a simple “Denison loves Chardon.”
After the event concluded, Reiter, along with Nicole Feehan ’14 of Bangor, Pa., collected all the sheets of paper, bundled up the donations, and prepared to send them off to Chardon, with love.