Allies, Not Rivals: Students Show Support for Injured Brooks Peers

Elaine Ma, Editor

In the wake of a fiery car crash involving four Brooks School students, two seniors at the Academy launched campaigns to show support for those affected by the accident.

The single-vehicle crash took place on September 11 in North Andover. All four passengers of the Jeep Cherokee suffered injuries: three were transferred to medical facilities in Boston—one was airlifted—while the other was treated at Lawrence General Hospital, according to local news reports.

Hearing the news, Ilana Hayes ’20 was concerned about her friend Jeffery Feng, the passenger who suffered the most injury.

“I went to the same middle school as him and knew him personally. When I heard about it, I knew I had to do something because his parents had recently divorced and his mom doesn’t speak any English,” Ilana said. “It would be really hard for her to pay all the bills because she’s all alone. And Jeffery, he’s her only son.”

That motivated Ilana to start a campaign on the fundraising website GoFundMe. “I figured I might as well help out,” she said, “so that anyone who wanted to donate could do so.” Having sent out emails to the Governor’s community, she raised over $10,000 in a few days—a number that exceeded her expectations.

“I was just thinking anything really would be great. And we ended up raising a lot more than that,” said Ilana. Feng’s mother was beyond grateful for the donations, she added.

Difficult times, it seems, bring communities together rather than set them apart. Kianne Benjamin ’20 collected signatures from Academy students, allowing them to write messages to the Brooks community, especially those affected by the car crash. “I feel like this is a special case where we are called to unite and we are called to be sympathetic and be kind to Brooks because although we have a rivalry, we still care and we are still humans,” Kianne said. 

“Schools are tight-knit communities, and events like this have an impact on everyone,” Head of School Dr. Peter Quimby wrote in an all-school email, encouraging members of the Governor’s community to reach out to friends at Brooks, the Academy’s rival school.

In response, students at Brooks created a thank-you video. Dr. Quimby presented the clip during the morning meeting on September 30.

Feng woke up a week ago. “He is doing a lot better,” said Ilana. “He’s home now and he is capable of walking from the bathroom to the kitchen with a nurse.” One of the four students has returned to school while the rest of them are still recovering at home, The Governor has learned.