Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Letter to Sunset Students

Before I go any further in this. Before I say one word about where I am going or what I hope to happen to myself and family over the next few years, and before any of the stories start popping off the page like you know they will. I must extend to my students at Sunset High School my absolute gratitude and joy to you for allowing me to wedge and conspire and sneak into your lives. Over the past four and a half years you have kept me sane and alive. I have never laughed harder, thought deeper, tried harder, or been more warmly welcomed than by you all. I have told you many times that the classroom is a magical place that is rarely like the real world. In a classroom everything is symbolic. Every gesture and opinion matters. Every student is important and their voice is vital. We can discuss culture and politics and art and every utterance is relevant and full of truth because for that brief time together we have all bought into that possibility. In the real world people are more than likely crushed, their dreams fade and their voices are lost, but not in the classroom. Not in our classroom! You made me believe in that everyday. For this, I thank you and cherish you. I will miss you more than you ever thought possible. Please know that it is because of you that I have chosen now to ammend my statement. That I now hope to raise my daughters with this idea of a classroom abroad, that perhaps we can find the same beauty and goodness and thoughtful people in all the corners of the globe exactly like the ones that affected me so deeply at Sunset. This new dream is because of you. And so as I leave you, I owe you so much. Thank you, friends, thank you for helping me to change my life and my perspective and I promise to pass that influence on to others.


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  2. Thank you so much for everything. You remain one of my favorite teachers I have ever had and I will always remember everything I gave and took away from the year in your guise.

  3. Brian,
    It has been TOO long, but for some reason I have stumbled into the realm of memories carelessly tucked away from my SHS days after running into one, RYAN KAVENAUGH on the MAX here in PDX. I find myself reminiscing of the good ole days when we would break down and recreate KING LEAR as a 3 act Shrek themed production, shouting at the top of my lungs, "Blow wind and crack your cheeks"... Among other things. I have not kept up with your travels or growth, but I do wish you the happiest of holidays and hope the years have been kind to you on your journey. Thank you for enabling us to open our minds, pushing us out of our comfort zones, being original, and caring about the growth of your students. Many of us didn't realize it then, or completely overlooked the opportunity, but it was exactly what we all needed in the mundane routine of High School.
    Happy holidays,
    Andrew Wallner (King Lear)
    P.S. I still have no idea what the hell that old man was yelling about but I have the video recording of the performance somewhere.

  4. Dear Mr. Wallner,

    Thank you kindly for your letter. It was received with the utmost of merriment and mirth. You were truly an original! I've also bumped into a number of old faces since returning to Portland, and though my cheeks redden with innate shyness, I'm always left with an awe and admiration at what everyone is accomplishing. Lear says, "You must bear with me. Pray you now, forget and forgive." Words I always take to heart when thinking of old high school days. Please be well and keep in touch.

    P.S. You're a Hartenstein Hall of Fame Lifer!