June 30, 2012
Lake Erie College Alumnus Shows Support for Chardon Shooting(Painesville, Ohio) – Lake Erie College 2008 alumnus and aspiring artist Howard Washington II will shoot a video of his song "Pardon Me Chardon” on Saturday, June 30 at 3:00 p.m. in the downtown Chardon square. The concept of the video is to unite as "one heartbeat” and honor the victims who lost their lives in the Chardon shooting in February.
Howard Washington II graduated from Lake Erie College with a bachelor of fine arts degree in dance with a minor in entrepreneurship. He taught the hip hop class at the College for several years, which included performing in the annual spring dance concerts. After graduation, Washington accepted a position as the physical education instructor at Entrepreneurship Preparatory School (E Prep) in Cleveland.
While at E Prep, Washington created the program "Hip PE,” focusing on teamwork, positive mental attitude, confidence, focus and communication through physical activities but with a hip hop twist. After two years, he received the "Teacher of the Year” and "Influential Teacher” awards.
In 2010, Washington continued his career at Cleveland College Preparatory School (CCP) in Cleveland, one of three schools in the I Can Schools network. I Can Schools is a non-profit, charter school located in Cleveland.
Washington became dean of students in 2012 at CCP, helping to transition the students into young professionals and respectful scholars. He was recently appointed director of school culture, working with the deans within the I Can network. Washington also teaches dance classes at Lakeshore Dance and Gymnastics in Mayfield Village, Ohio.
While hearing about the events that transpired the morning of February 27, Washington was filled with sadness and hurt. Three victims’ lives were lost after 17-year old Thomas "T.J.” Lane opened fire in the school’s cafeteria at approximately 7:30 a.m. Five students were hospitalized, three of whom later died. Daniel Parmertor, Russell King and Demetrius Hewlin were pronounced dead within 48 hours of the shooting.
Being an artist (known as "H”) and dancer, Washington knew this was an opportunity to create something meaningful. The tragedy was also particularly touching since Washington has taught several Chardon students and many of them still had ties to the school.
"The shooting was an instant dagger to my heart. I could only imagine the rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts the parents, students and administrators were experiencing. I started to think, and the song ‘Pardon Me Chardon’ came to mind. It was my way of saying, ‘Excuse me, Chardon; someone cares and has not forgotten about you,’” said Washington. "I decided to verbalize my condolences in a traditional, yet untraditional way.”
Washington hopes this day will bring together supporters from Chardon and the surrounding communities to walk together wearing red and black (Chardon’s school colors) and encourage attendees to spread love and unity all across Ohio.
The video shooting is free and open to the community. As an introduction, a meet-and-greet hosted by Washington and his team, who call themselves the United Nation of Individuals Enlightened Substantially (U.N.I.E.S.), will begin at 3:00 p.m. The U.N.I.E.S. are a group of local individuals whose talents range from music to philanthropy.
Unity Band bracelets created by Akron-based non-profit organization H.A.N.D.S. (Helping All in Need Donation Services) will also be available for purchase. Donations will be accepted, and all proceeds will go to the Chardon victims and their families. For more information, contact Washington at email@example.com.