About 150 alumni and students of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, where Marathon bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev graduated from, gathered with community leaders and Cambridge residents in a park down the street from the high school this afternoon.
“We can process things alone or we can heal together,” said organizer Samuel Gebru, who graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin in 2009.
The speakers did not mention the Tsarnaevs.
“We didn’t want to focus on them,” Gebru said. “We all know what happened. We want to talk about healing.”
Instead, they spoke about the diversity of the school’s student body, the different languages students hear when they walk the halls, and how students and alumni can support one another.
On April 20, the day after the younger Tsarnaev brother was found hiding in a boat in Watertown and arrested, Gebru said he contacted friends about doing something to bring their school’s alumni community together. Over the next week they held meetings and conference calls, and spoke with city officials.
“It’s horrible no matter who it is, but when it’s one of your own, it disorients you even more. To think, we walked the same hallways, ate the same food,” Gebru said.
The office of Mayor Henrietta Davis donated white T-shirts bearing the words “Cambridge Strong,” hastily printed on Friday, said Matt Nelson, Davis’ chief of staff. The shirts were free, though people were encouraged to donate to the Friends of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School foundation.
Marc Saunders, a 1983 graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin who still lives in Cambridge with his wife, a member of the 1984 class, said he enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with other alumni, students, and parents.
Though he found it difficult to accept that the bombing suspects lived in the city where he grew up, Saunders said it would be foolish to assume that Cambridge should be immune to violence.
“I found it kind of offensive that people were saying, ‘I can’t believe he was a graduate of Rindge and Latin’,” he said.
Gebru said he is hoping to plan another, larger gathering in late May to raise funds for The One Fund for Marathon bombing victims and their families. He has yet to set a date for it.