By JORDI FAXON
“Muna had this unspoken strength about her that you could probably see just by looking at her,” senior Mia Poletti explains. “She had all these stories from Zanzibar, where she was from, and she would always be able to compare the cultures of here and there. For all the people who hadn’t met her before, they just missed out on this amazing, diservse and warm human who was always there to be somebody’s friend.”
Senior Muna Mohammed passed away March 15, and her jovial, giving personality will be missed by the whole senior class. She was actively involved in the school’s music department, having been a member of the CHS chamber choir for the past few years, recognized in the ensemble as one of its most welcoming and helpful members.
“She was profoundly helpful,” CHS choir director Tom Lehmkuhl says. “We kind of had this almost business relationship. There wouldn’t be all of this, ‘Oh Muna, would you mind doing this?’ It would be ‘Hey, Muna,’ and she would come over and say ‘What can I do?’”
This sentiment is shared by senior Pascale Montgomery, another member of the chamber choir, who points out that in class she reverberated warmth to everyone that she dealt with.
“She was really honest and authentic,” Montgomery says. “She would glow. Even in the bad days, she was always there to help people.”
CHS French teacher Suzanne Marden shares similar thoughts on Muna’s helpfulness in class, pointing out that for many of her students, Muna was the person who made them want to stay.
“Muna was a breath of fresh air in the classroom,” the teacher shares. “My students have said that if it weren’t for her in class, they would have instantly switched over to English, but she was like ‘No!’ She was the cheerleader. ‘We’re not going to move over to English! We’re gonna stay in French!’ I definitely needed her enthusiasm for the language.”
Montgomery remembers a class period where Lehmkuhl assigned music theory practice for all of the singers. Muna was trying to understand it at first, but once she understood she went around to everyone, checking in to make sure that everyone else was on the same page.
“Our last District Choral Festival, [while] the chamber choir was waiting for their song, the concert choir had a really bouncy, chanty piece,” Poletti recalls. “Muna started this circle where the girls were doing a weird chant-like dance, where we were all bouncing with the music, and all of a sudden all of us were in this circle that she had started, dancing like lunatics to the concert choir’s song.”
The choirs convened a couple days after school was canceled to give their thanks to the life that Muna Mohammed had lived. Sitting in a circle, they all told their own stories about Muna, and at the end of the meeting they decided to sing one of her favorite songs, “La Nuit d’Étoile,” in honor of her.
“I could see…that there was a lot of grief and a lot of shock and a lot of people just trying to come to grips with it,” Lehmkuhl says. “Gradually, the main thing that happened was anecdotes kept coming up from people.”
Even though many bring up the fact that the school’s cancellation has made the grieving process difficult, for not being as able to share each other’s company, it still brings solace to remember the impact she made in our lives, and the ways in which she reached out and made others feel better.
“That’s the thing about Muna,” Poletti says. “She was always a giver. She managed to make everyone’s day better by giving cookies, help or just her beautiful smile.”