Harwood Union High School will host a Celebration of Life for the five local students who were killed in a car crash on October 8 on October 24 at the school.
The event takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. and is being organized by the junior class at Harwood and their advisers. The event will be held in the gym with live streaming into the auditorium. People are asked to park at their local schools and Harwood will provide busing from those locations. Parking at Harwood is limited.
The event is aimed at honoring each of the five students. Harwood Union co-principals Amy Rex and Lisa Atwood will make brief remarks as well as Washington West superintendent Brigid Scheffert Nease. Faculty and students will speak about each of the five students and there will be music from the HUHS music department in between the speakers. The junior class is putting together a slideshow presentation.
“We hope this night will celebrate the students lost and lift up the communities,” Scheffert Nease said.
The students who died have been buried and their families, friends and community have received a tremendous amount of local, state and national support in the aftermath of the tragedy.
HU MUSIC DEPT CONCERT
There have been several successful fundraisers for the Mad River Valley Community Fund’s Five Families Fund and several others are planned.
The Harwood Union music department will host a concert to raise funds for the school’s Celebration of Life this week, and as The Valley Reporter goes to press on October 19, the Mad River Barn in Fayston is hosting a fundraiser and silent auction.
The teenagers, Eli Brookens, Waterbury; Janie Chase Cozzi, Fayston; Liam Hale, Fayston; Mary Harris, Moretown; and Cyrus Zschau, Moretown, were hit by a truck driven the wrong way on I-89 on October 8. Four of them were 16 and attended Harwood Union. Cozzi was 15 and was home for the weekend from Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire. (See updated information about the driver of the truck on Page 12.)
HIGH FIVES FOUNDATION
Last weekend the High Fives Foundation hosted two successful fundraisers for the Five Families Fund, including one in Stowe and one at the Big Picture in Waitsfield. This Friday, American Flatbread is hosting a benefit bake for the Five Families Fund and next Wednesday, October 26, the Big Picture in Waitsfield is hosting A Night for The Valley featuring many local and regional bands.
The October 21 Harwood music department Harwood Strong Benefit Concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and features many local performers. All proceeds go toward the Celebration of Life event on Monday. Special guests include George Woodard, InoraBrass, the Mad River Chorale, alumna Sarah Reid, pianist Michael Arnowitt and The Renegade Groove, with additional performances by Harwood student ensembles and music faculty.
“Harwood is mourning the loss of five vibrant teenagers from the community, but with a separate memorial celebration already in the planning stages, this concert will have a very different feel and purpose. We are looking to provide the community with a place to gather, listen to some great music and just take a breath," said faculty organizer Stefanie Weigand.
SUPPORT AND LOVE
Beyond the fundraising, Harwood students and the community have received support, love and messages and videos of encouragement from many other Vermont high schools, from New England Patriots player Chris Long and many others. Sports teams have shown up to play Harwood teams bearing black and gold ribbons, with HU painted on their faces and arms and bearing T-shirts reading “Harwood Strong.” Vermont and other schools are sending photos of students standing in the shape of the letters H and U.
The peer-to-peer and community-to-community support have been strong. Waitsfield Telecom created Harwood spirit ribbons and distributed them to local businesses. An impromptu autumnal decoration of flowers has sprung up at the entrance to the school. The Mad River Riders will hold a fundraiser and the Stark Mountain Foundation has held a fundraiser.
Jon Jamieson, chair of the Mad River Valley Community Fund board, said that local organizations had been generous in their contributions and said that the five families have all received an initial donation. He said that at some appropriate time in the future the community fund, with the families, would determine how additional funds should be used.
To donate to this fund use the Five Families Fund PayPal button on the website www.mrvcommunityfund.org. To donate to this fund by check, put a "Five Families Fund" notation on the check and mail to P.O. Box 353, Waitsfield, VT 05673.
While the Mad River Barn’s fundraiser was held October 19, the silent auction remains open through Sunday, October 23, at 5 p.m. Auction items can be seen at www.handbid.com/auctions/mad-river-valley-five-families-community-fund/.
The Big Picture’s Night for The Valley will feature performances by Sugar Shack, Steady Betty, Afri VT, Ragged Co., Pappy Biondo, The Grift, the Big Basin Band, Bruce Jones, Phineas Gage, Patrick Quimby and others. For more information contact Asah Rowles at
Additionally, Revitalizing Waterbury will donate the proceeds of its annual Wicked Waterbury Halloween Ball to the Five Families Fund.
The annual fundraiser typically raises funds for Revitalizing Waterbury, but the group decided to change the intent of the fundraiser after the October 8 accident.
“We realized that our needs just didn’t compare to the greater needs of the community,” said Richard Burgoyne, board president.
The Wicked Waterbury Halloween Ball will be held on Saturday, October 29, from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. at the Country Club of Vermont. Costumes are encouraged.