By Alex Lippa
---- — PLAISTOW — It’s not easy to get students to head to school on a Sunday. At Timberlane Regional High School, it’s a different story.
Seniors are required to attend a Day of Compassion on Sunday, May 5. The day will honor Evan Dube, a 2011 Timberlane graduate, who died in Scotland last year.
“Evan was just a great example of one of the most compassionate people you will ever meet,” senior Ryan Tingley said. “This day is to spread what he believed in and to encourage everyone to be a better person.”
Teachers, students and community members will speak on the theme of compassion.
John Dube, Evan’s father and a history teacher at Timberlane, will be the keynote speaker.
“I hope it will be inspirational,” Dube said. “My thought is to get students in touch with themselves and remind them that they all have the capacity to change lives.”
The event has been in the works for weeks. It has been organized by the Timberlane Leadership Committee, a student group Evan belonged to.
Why Sunday? After the district used up its allotment of snow days, graduation would have to be pushed back unless students went to school on a weekend.
“We had some options,” principal Don Woodworth said. “We could graduate a week later, or we could be a little more creative.”
Woodworth decided to pitch the idea of making this event a mandatory school day for seniors to ensure graduation would happen on time.
“Many of the kids I’ve talked to are excited about this day,” senior Kaylyn Ryan said. “This is a way seniors can come together as a class for one of the last times, and show how compassion can have such a positive impact.”
John Dube said the change of plans was more than just a coincidence.
“Maybe it was meant to be like this,” Dube said. “When it has come to Evan, I’ve learned not to believe in coincidences.”
In addition to Dube, Timberlane teachers Eric Constantineau and Patty Deyermond and Michelle Lapinski, principal of Northshore Recovery High School in Beverly, Mass., will speak. Lapinski spoke at the school’s TedX conference in October, which also focused on compassion.
Despite the event being on a Sunday, Woodworth expects good attendance numbers.
“I’m expecting everyone to be there,” he said. “We understand that people will have conflicts. If they are absent, we will make a judgment on whether it was an excused or unexcused absence.”
The school is starting the day at 11 a.m., which will allow any students who need to attend religious services to do so.