Coming together to #FinnItForward

Daniel Klepp '20 and Evie Klepp '22, Section Manager and Copy Editor

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Unfair.

That’s the only word that seemed fitting to students and faculty after tragedy struck the family of Finn Huston and the community as a whole.

Following the news of the tragedy, many were quick to act, whether or not they had a close relationship with him. From painting the rock in his honor to the Finn Vigil, a lantern lighting ceremony honoring Finn, strong student-based efforts have led the charge in recovering and recuperating fr

om such a devastating loss. 

“(He was) so full of love,” Alexandra Lefif ’22 said. “He had the biggest heart in the room, the biggest laugh in the room. So, I thought, what better way than to demonstrate to the world how much of a life he brought to (it)?” 

Lefif was one of the students who led the charge on the Finn Vigil, which was held after the North-South Football game, and participants crossed the lines of rivalry to find solace in each other. Lanterns rose into the air as loved ones and strangers alike mourned and celebrated Finn’s life.

“It was an amazing success,” Lefif said. “Everybody in the community came together. There were even some Norsemen there– we all just gathered as a group and supported each other.”

Other students, such as Teli Hilentzaris ’20, planned events to honor Finn and raise money for his family. Hilentzaris’s connection to Finn was through an AP European History study group, where he experienced Finn’s kindness firsthand.

“He was incredibly bright, smart and talented,” Hilentzar

is said. “You would have loved to know him.”

According to Hilentzaris, he organized “Run the Night”, a gathering of musical performances and artists whose work will be on sale in hopes to raise anywhere from $1000-$2500 after expenses.

“The first thing that came to mind is to help the family,” Hilentzaris said. “It’s something so unjustified and so traumatic. Even if they’re perfectly able to do to pay for everything, I don’t think they (should) have to.”

Lefif said she chose to plan a lantern lighting ceremony because Finn “knew how to make any room shine.” Lefif and her friends helped unfold and light the lanterns that illuminated the night sky in Finn’s honor. 

“I thought, ‘what better way than to demonstrate to the world how much of a life he brought to it?’” Lefif said. “He was so full of love– he was the biggest heart in the room and the biggest laugh in the room. He was always just someone to admire.”

Many of those who contributed to these activities were not

necessarily close to Finn or his family but felt a call to action after hearing the news of his condition. Though Justin Flores ’22 said he was not close friends with Finn, he painted the rock with Finn’s name on it with Sophia Fowler and Celeste Felberg both ’22. 

“It just felt like a nice thing to do for him,” Flores said. “Painting the rock was a good way to recognize him.”

The death of Finn also raises a question– how should we go about healing? Often times, we look towards others to help us grieve, counselor Beth Walsh-Sahutske said, but our personal process is important. 

“Everybody has to work through their grief in their own way,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “Sometimes, people look at how others are working through their grief and have feelings or concerns about it. Understanding how to help yourself is the most important thing. Everybody’s on their own journey and their own path towards healing.”

Hilentzaris said he is not a big believer in words, so by organizing “Run the Night”, he could lessen the community pain and do something bigger than words. 

“I think in addition to the fact that we’re donating money, having something to kind of start the healing process for this is a good thing,” Hilentzaris said.

Following the announcement of the news, the counseling department opened Cleminson Hall to accommodate anyone who needed it.

“Whenever the school has to deal with a crisis, we go in “crisis mode”,” Sahutske said. “We work to support all the people that need that support.”

Sahutske said helping support the student body can be tiring for the counseling staff and administration– however, it’s “small potatoes” compared to the combined stresses faced by the friends and family of Finn.

“I feel lucky to be able to support families and help them get through hard times and help students deal with their grief moving forward,” Sahutske said. “The human mind is incredibly resilient, and with that, time and healthy coping, you work through it. It gets better.”

Sahutske believes there are many good ways to cope, as long as people can work through their feelings and express what they need to express. She said that finding those healthy coping mechanisms to work through grief is important– there is no shortcut for it.

“There’s healing that has to happen in our whole community,” Sahutske said. “There’s a lot of healing that has to be done– it’s going to take a lot of time, patience, love and good energy to help people get through it.”

 

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