When teaching is insignificant
Spring break represents a new life in a way. The trees blossoming in the courtyard, flowers budding in front of the office offer the teacher refreshment. One more quarter go. I spent my spring break grading essays and planning the last push towards June. Monday morning arrives with a spring shower and a coolness in the air. I print off my next assignment sheet and head to the copy room. "Attention staff, there will be a brief faculty meeting at 7:oo a.m. in the faculty room." Unusual, I think. I head over. The principal gathers us all in and tells us that over the break, we lost one of our students. JK, I'll call him here. He died last Thursday at 18. Teaching doesn't seem to matter much today. Literary analysis or self-to-text connections, unimiportant. Third quarter progress reports, pointless. I taught JK, last year and the year before when I long-term subbed in his English class. His is a story worth much more than what I can offer here. But, I will do my best.JK suffered from Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that debilitates a person, and causes massive fluid build up in the lungs. My uncle died of Cystic Fibrosis in 1984. JK spent much of his school year at the Children's Hospital, always wanting to be at school. When I taught him last year, he attended school maybe 1/3 of the time. But he always asked for his work before he went back to the hospital. He ran for ASB office and won. He was elected homecoming king. He wasn't big, the disease stunted his growth. He wasn't physically strong--most of the time he looked pale and weak. But when it comes to strength, he possessed it where most of us lack it. To be able to push on, as JK did, requires an internal fortitude that I cannot comprehend. To live life to the fullest, in the face of impending death, is to be the most human that we can be. To be a selfless young man, when no one would question selfishness, is to demonstrate the best and most fantastic about humanity. To fight, literally until your last breath, when giving up seems just as noble, is to demonstrate for all those that knew him, what true courage is. JK, we have been blessed to live alongside you; we have been honored to learn from you. I pray your life will forever be remembered by our storied traditions here. Let us revel in your life and grow in your death. Thank you, JK, may you rest in peace.