By Alex Lippa
---- — PLAISTOW — What started off as a small idea has now grown to a statewide event.
Gov. Maggie Hassan declared Sunday to be a statewide Day Of Compassion. It comes after Timberlane Regional High School held a Day of Compassion earlier this month to honor the memory of 2011 Timberlane graduate Evan Dube, who died unexpectedly in Scotland last year.
Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of Dube’s death.
“It’s just an amazing gesture for our community and our state,” said Howie Collyer, Timberlane senior and one of the event organizers. “We just wanted to see how far this could go.”
The day started off as a small dedication to the life of Dube, but it turned into a massive event after the school made it a snow day makeup for seniors on May 5.
More than 90 percent of the senior class showed up, even though it was held on a Sunday.
“It was a day that made me so proud to be part of the Timberlane community,” said Scott Strainge, director of secondary education for the school district. “We had faith that it would be something amazing and it turned out to go really well.”
Many community members spoke at the event, including John Dube, a Timberlane history teacher and Evan’s dad.
“It was an emotional speech,” said sophomore Lauren Strainge, Scott’s daughter and one of the student organizers of the event.
Prior to the event, Collyer wrote a letter to Hassan asking if it could expand to a statewide level. Collyer asked for the day to be held on May 19, the first anniversary of Dube’s death.
“I went into detail about the time period we lost Evan and just how hard it was for the community,” Collyer said. “I said how amazing it was to see how strong everyone was afterward. I thought if we got this for the state of New Hampshire, you never know how far something like this could go.”
Hassan wrote back just before the Timberlane event, granting the request.
“I commend all of the Timberlane seniors and others who have recognized the need to promote compassion,” she wrote. “You have shown wisdom beyond your years, and I am encouraged, knowing that after you graduate you will take this message with you beyond the Timberlane community.”
In her proclamation, Hassan encouraged all residents to reflect upon how they can serve their community in a more compassionate way on Sunday.
There are no official events planned for Sunday by the school or the state, but Scott Strainge hopes the community will find a way to practice compassion individually.
“It doesn’t have to be a grand, sweeping gesture,” he said. “It can be taking time to play with your little brother or making the time to go to the beach with your parents.”
Strainge said he has emailed local high schools, explaining the Day of Compassion and asking them to plant a tree Sunday in Dube’s honor.
Collyer said he hopes to gather a group of friends to commemorate the day.
“If there’s a way we can gather and acknowledge this, I certainly would want to do so,” he said. “But I hope that we can continue to make this grow.”