Releasing for the sake of HOPE

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Senior Sarah McDonald watches in amusement as a monarch butterfly climbs off senior Michael Guarasci’s finger and onto the initial basket handle. McDonald joined HOPE as a sophomore but quickly found her passion to help others get through times of struggle. (Photo/Joanne Haner)

As teenagers going through some of the most formative years of our lives, it’s important to pay attention to our mental health. One club on campus, the HOPE (Helping Overcome Problems Effectively) club, places its efforts towards preventing teen suicide. In honor of those we have lost to suicide, the HOPE club held a butterfly release in the Environmental Education Center (EEC) after school Tuesday, Sept. 10. 

Students could donate $3 before the event to sponsor a butterfly and do their part in advocating the prevention of teen suicide. At the event, HOPE club officers opened a basket of live butterflies, setting the insects free in the EEC. Meanwhile, attendees had individual butterflies of their own to release. 

“Releasing the butterflies is a beautiful way to be at peace with such a hard concept to grasp,” HOPE co-president senior Sarah McDonald said. “The ceremony is almost like a cathartic release of the type of built up emotion that’s hard to remedy.” 

McDonald sees the event as a new annual tradition for the HOPE club. The club also hosts other events and fundraisers on campus to bring up student spirit, such as their annual Out of the Darkness Walk and their Hugs for Hope fundraiser, where members pass out chocolate Hershey Kisses to students during testing weeks. 

Seniors Michelle Zapata, Michael Guarasci and Sarah McDonald release the student-sponsored butterflies into the open air. “Since [preventing teen suicide] is a lofty task, we try to go about it in smaller areas that seem not to matter to many but can make a big difference in an individual’s life,” McDonald said. (Photo/Joanne Haner)

“I am very happy with how the event turned out,” McDonald said. “It was beautiful and I could tell it touched many people and gave some the strength they needed while feeling weak.”

The HOPE club meets every other Tuesday in Mrs. Roldan’s room, 7123, and always welcomes new members. 

If you know are or if you know anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the suicide hotline number (1-800-273-8255) or talk to another individual.

(All photos taken by Joanne Haner)

Joanne is a senior at American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla. As a third-year staffer and second-year editor-in-chief, she loves immersing herself in the journalistic field and writing for her publications. Outside of newspaper, Joanne is also co-president of the English Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta math honor society, where she also serves as the student delegate state secretary. Among the other clubs she is a part of, Joanne is also secretary of the linguistics team and Chinese Honor Society, as well as treasurer for Quill and Scroll. In her free time, Joanne loves practicing her photography and going to concerts.

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