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Student project is about strength

May 29, 2013

My friend, Campbell Taylor, committed suicide on March 1 at La Cañada High School. I have thought of him every day since. After his death, members of The Spartan newspaper staff and I felt even more obligated than before to create a “Before I Die” chalk wall at LCHS.

As some background, this chalk wall, on which the phrase “Before I die I want to ___.” would be stenciled multiple times allowing bystanders the opportunity to complete that sentence. It is an international movement that started on a wall in New Orleans. In part its intent then was to return hope to a devastated city.

Its intent at LCHS would be the same. This wall would remind students that there is meaning and purpose to their lives other than the attainment of good grades and admittance to a prestigious college. It will remind students why they are where they are and what they are doing and why it may or may not have value.

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I along with two of my colleagues from The Spartan presented the idea for this project to Superintendent Wendy Sinnette and Principal Ian McFeat two months ago and have not yet received a response.

They fear the construction of this wall because of a notion of “suicide contagion.” They fear that we would be memorializing our friend in a way that would glorify suicide. Their fears are simply apocalyptic and naïve.

Our goal is to celebrate life and spark critical thinking about the realities of being and not being. Indeed, we seek to convert our vulnerabilities into our strengths and to share our hopes and dreams with our friends and fellow Spartans.

Ms. Sinnette and Mr. McFeat, please approve this student project. I know that underneath that bureaucratic façade exist compassionate hearts that want to approve the project.

For more information about the project, please visit beforeidie.cc. I am working on bringing this wall to Glendale Community College as well. After all, when has our age ever stopped us from sharing our dreams with the world?

Kevork Kurdoghlian
La Cañada Flintridge

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