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It’s Cool to Care: One Laker | One Love Day Returns to BL

After a two-year hiatus, a BL tradition returned to Lake Avenue. The entire school participated in One Laker | One Love Day, a special day of programming that focuses on healthy relationships. 

The One Laker | One Love Day grew out of a student-led initiative and partnership with the One Love Foundation, which was created by Sharon Love, mother of Yeardley Love, the Baltimore native and University of Virginia student who tragically lost her life at the hands of her former boyfriend in 2010. 

The One Love Foundation is a national non-profit organization whose goal is to raise awareness and end relationship abuse. Boys’ Latin was not only the first school in the nation to establish a One Love Student Club, but the first school to be named a One Love Certified HERO School and today, Boys’ Latin is a flagship School for the One Love Foundation.  

BL’s upper school One Love Club runs our annual One Laker | One Love Day, which is designed to empower students to promote healthy relationships and see signs of unhealthy ones. This year, the theme of the day was “It’s Cool to Care”: students and faculty wore t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan, along with the segmented blue heart that is One Love’s logo.

Director of Counseling and One Love faculty sponsor Megan Kenney was thrilled to see the event come together for the first time since COVID. 

“Coming back together and gathering as a community in person was a big deal,” she said, “We brought the mission of the One Love Foundation back into the spotlight. It's such a good anchor for us as an all-boys school.”

The day began with a presentation in the Iglehart Gymnasium in which Steele Stanwick, the brother of former Laker Shack Stanwick ‘14, addressed grades eight through twelve. At The University of Virginia, Steele was a friend of Yeardley Love and a teammate of her x-boyfriend. He shared his first-hand perspective on Yeardley’s death and the situation that led to it. He reminded boys of the signs of unhealthy relationships and the importance of fostering an environment where students feel empowered to speak up. Senior Jake Blibaum ‘22, one of the One Love Club’s three senior leaders, spoke next about the mission of the club and the purpose of the day at large. “I was excited to share what I had to say about our efforts,” he said afterward, “I hope kids saw how you can love better as a school and as a community.”

After a break for lunch, students and faculty split into divisions for activities. In their advisories, upper schoolers reflected on Steele’s speech and the concept of being a bystander vs. an “upstander.” Each student was then asked to write a keyword or phrase pertaining to the “Cool to Care'' theme, on a brightly painted rock. The rocks will be collected and displayed together to form a rock garden, a symbolic reminder of One Love’s mission.

Upper schoolers finished their day in the Gelston Athletic Center with various team-building activities designed to emphasize the day’s theme of caring and compassion. Meanwhile, seventh graders joined with lower schoolers to create a woven tapestry, which will be displayed in the weeks to come. The tapestry represents how each of us contributes our unique gifts to strengthen our community. 

Middle School Counselor Cassidy Belz was impressed with the way her students worked with the younger boys. “It was so great to see the boys demonstrate their compassion, caring, and kindness towards their lower school buddies,” she said.

Another highlight of the day was speeches by varsity lacrosse coach and assistant director of admissions Brian Farrell ‘06 and middle school history teacher Ryan Hopkins.  They spoke about the importance of caring for one another every day. Coach Farrell also talked about his personal connection to Yeardley Love, and how his reflections on what it means to be cool have changed over the years. “Their messages really landed with the boys,” said Mrs. Belz.

The lower school program, run primarily by Lower School Counselor Cindy Crown, centered on the children’s book I Am Love: A Book of Compassion, by Susan Verde. Over the course of the day, students made “Birthday Packs” for the Baltimore Hunger Project, did yoga, and decorated their own rocks for the garden.

Due to rain, the final activity was postponed to Friday. All students and faculty gathered together on the middle school turf to recreate the One Love heart logo while a drone snapped pictures from above. Led by music teachers Matt Pisarcik and George Bareford, musicians from the upper school alongside lower school singers ended the proceedings with a rendition of The Beatles’ classic, “All You Need is Love.”

In reflecting on the day, Mrs. Kenney was quick to praise student leaders Kernan Brooks ‘22, Charlie Goodhue ‘22, and Jake Blibaum ‘22, as well as her colleagues Mrs. Belz and Mrs. Crown.

“The collaboration between the three divisions felt good,” said Ms. Kenney, “The presence of our club is back in a way that feels really meaningful.”