Death of Former Student a Tragedy for Choate

The Choate Rosemary Hall community has been finding ways to come together since the death of Choate student Charlotte Holtz on Sunday, December 6. On the day after Holtz’s death, Choate’s eleventh grade class gathered for a meeting where Choate’s school chaplain and several of Holtz’s classmates spoke a few words in memory of her. Around mid-morning of the same day, news of Holtz’s death was officially announced to the rest of the Choate community via email. The Choate community gathered the following day for an all-school meeting dedicated to Holtz. In addition to several speeches made by the school chaplain and three Choate students, Choate’s chamber orchestra played several pieces. Holtz, an eleventh grader, withdrew from Choate in mid-November, according to John Ford, Assistant Headmaster and Dean of Students of Choate Rosemary Hall. Choate students and faculty who wished to attend Holtz’s service, which was held in Stamford, Connecticut on December 11, were able to do so with school-provided transportation. Choate granted some grief-stricken students time off from classes and sports. The Choate health center staff also “worked around the clock to reach out to students and to support those who came forward themselves,” Ford wrote in an email to The Phillipian. “This was an extremely difficult thing to get through and for many in the school community it will take a long time to really recover. Time helps and staying busy helps. We remain concerned for Charlotte’s parents and her whole family and we will not forget her,” wrote Ford. Holtz’s friends at Phillips Academy have felt deep sorrow at her passing. Kate Wiener ’11 said, “I met her in kindergarten and we were inseparable from the first grade. I literally spent 24/7 with her, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.” Wiener attended Holtz’s December 13 shiva, a period of mourning in the Jewish tradition. “Charlotte never judged anyone and always defended her friends,” said Wiener. She said, “I have all these songs that she sang on my iPod, and I’ve just been listening to them for the past few weeks.” Phillips Academy has also been touched by student deaths in the recent past. In February 2000, former school president Zach Tripp ’00 took his own life in Draper Cottage. The Andover community assembled for an unscheduled All-School Meeting the next day, followed by a memorial service. The school also ended winter term early, and final exams were cancelled. In May 2000, Jeff Diamond ’01 committed suicide after leaving Phillips Academy to attend school in Cincinnati, OH. In light of Diamond’s death, the Spring term Theater 520 production, Things Fall Apart, was cancelled due to references to suicide. Former Choate eleventh-grader Chris Peel, who was a close friend of Holtz and now attends Hampden Country Day School, said that Holtz was interested in music, photography and poetry, and submitted her works to The Lit, Choate’s literary magazine. Jarred Kennedy-Loving, another one of Holtz’s Choate friends, said, “Charlotte lit up the campus with her radiant smile, her undeniably funny jokes and her inner peace.” “I’m at a loss for words [regarding] her untimely death. It’s heartbreaking,” he said. Ford wrote, “As we say, life goes on. We have resumed business ‘as usual’ here on campus. We were in a way fortunate that winter break came when it did because many of us needed that time more than ever.”