On March 14, a month after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL, which took 17 lives, Charlotte Kerpen, a ninth grader at Schreiber High School, conceived and cohosted a benefit concert to raise awareness and make a difference in the Port Washington community. Since the awful tragedy, students all over the nation have been pushing for change in our laws and seeking ways to prevent all acts of violence in a school setting. Kerpen was so affected by the Parkland shooting that she wanted to be one of those who could unite students and families in a common cause to ensure that gun-related shootings are minimized in the future.
Kerpen organized 17 performances of students from the Port Washington community, each performance in honor and memory of the 17 people that died in the tragedy that occurred in Parkland, FL. Talented singers and dancers gave amazing performances which were enjoyed by the sold-out crowd at the Jeanne Rimsky Theater at the Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington.
A performance of “You Will Be Found” was put on by elementary students from Hearts PW, and a dancing performance to the song “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri was performed by dancers of Berest Dance Centre. Additionally, the Schreiber Theatre Company sang “If Only” from their most recent play, The Little Mermaid. These performances, along with the 14 others, each brought a sense of hope for change in our country in memory of those who died, while celebrating their lives with an evening of enjoyment.
“The turnout was amazing and we are ecstatic by the performances that were put on,” said Charlotte’s parents, Dave and Carrie Kerpen. “It was amazing to see a community come together to recognize and remember this awful tragedy and promote change. We could not be prouder of what Charlotte has done for our community and to raise awareness for the lives lost in the Parkland shooting,”
At the beginning of the benefit concert, Kerpen announced that the Port Washington community had already raised $27,000 to be donated to the Broward Education Foundation, and Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing gun-related deaths due to crime, suicide and accidental discharge. The benefit concert was held with no additional cost due to the generosity of the Landmark staff and individual Board members, which donated the use of the facility, thereby allowing all proceeds to be donated to these two worthy causes. Kerpen gave a special thanks to Laura Mogul and the entire board and team at the Landmark Center. Numerous sponsors from the community were proud to support this cause.
Danny LePorin, a senior at LuHi, cohosted the event with Kerpen, and each individually took part in the performances. LePorin and Kerpen sang “For Now” from the movie The Greatest Showman, along with other cast members from Shining Studios.
“It was incredible to see my dream of making one small text to my parents late one night into something a community can look back on and remember that they helped make a difference,” said Kerpen. “It was unbelievable to watch the performers and to see the reaction of those who attended and those who watched livestream. I am so proud of how this turned out.”
Kerpen’s reason for creating and hosting “Port for Parkland” was that being an ordinary high school student doing her homework and hearing about the shooting of people her own age, she felt that she just had to get involved and do something that would get our country recognize that it must tighten its gun laws and never forget all those young people, teachers and staff who have lost their lives in school shootings. Donations for this cause are still coming and the website www.portforparkland.com is still accepting contributions.
Sydney Rosenthal is a senior at Schreiber High School.