Brentwood High School senior class president Maria Chaparro says that most days, she leaves her home wearing a Brentwood lacrosse T-shirt and sweatpants.

“I’m not the only one, some of my friends will tell me too, you get dirty looks from other people,” she said. “They see ‘Brentwood’ on your shirt. It’s sad, but I’m proud to be from here. I don’t wish to be from another high school, and I don’t wish to represent any other high school.”

Recent gang violence has shaken up the Brentwood community, but Spirit Week leading up to Friday’s homecoming football game has given Brentwood High School students a chance to take pride in themselves and their school. The upbeat atmosphere was in full swing with students taking part in Wind it Back Wednesday, in which they sported costumes from various time periods, and Tacky Tourist Thursday.

The festivities culminated Friday night with a homecoming dance. For Chaparro, this was the most rewarding part of the week.

“I just like to see the unity, all of us coming together at the pep rally,” she said. “ ... They’re just so happy to be around each other. Being a part of this high school is truly something special.”

Student council president and 2016 Siemens Competition semifinalist Claire Cilien helped organize the dance, decorated the Sonderling Center senior cafeteria, and put the homecoming king and queen ballots in order for the event.

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“It’s great, we’re all having fun, my friends are here, and we got food. I love food!” Cilien said with a laugh. “Everyone’s dancing, everyone’s laughing and goofing off. It’s a relaxer from a long week.”

Senior class adviser Susan Lewis felt it was important for the school to get into the spirit. She knew this year would be different due to the recent violence so close to home, and thought everyone could use a positive atmosphere.

In fact, in her 16 years as a student council adviser, Lewis said she’s never seen the homecoming dance tickets sell out so quickly.

“When you are dealing with something like that, that realistically is on the outside, you need normalcy any way you can get it,” Lewis said. “And I think that’s mostly what we provided. When it was coming up time for the senior trip [last week to Dorney Park] and homecoming, we tried to make it a time of celebration for the community.”

Psychologists and counselors have also been provided to support Brentwood students, and according to Lewis, students and teachers alike have looked to each other for comfort as well.

“A lot of us that work here grew up here in the community, so our ties run very deep,” said Lewis, who graduated from Brentwood in 1985. “I think that’s something else we saw come through: Everyone banded together and tried to make things better.”

Cilien accredits the teachers and principals of Brentwood High School for helping the students get through this past month.

“[The principals] really just took initiative to brighten the mood but not to just forget about it, because it’s an event that can never be forgotten, but they try to convert that energy into positive energy and remind us that it’s OK and we’ll make it through tough times together. No one has to deal with it by themselves.” she said.

“It’s like an extended family,” she added with a grin.