Weekly Letter (Mar 2, 2015)

Dear Parents and Students,

 Sandra (my wife), Kelly (my daughter) and I went to see a movie last weekend. It wasn’t one of the big award winners but it was certainly worth watching. Based on a true story, McFarland is about a cross-country coach who comes from a more upscale community to a small high school in McFarland, at the southern end of California’s central valley. The vast majority of the kids are children of farmworkers who are grossly overworked and underpaid. For these kids the “American dream” is just that … a dream that will never be realized.

 Initially the white coach and his family are unable to find a comfort level in the predominantly Mexican community. Slowly the coach begins to understand that he is working in a school that is nothing like the school he had come from but had its own great culture. As sometimes happens with teams, the coach learned that he needed to encourage the runners far more than actually coach them. At the same time the kids learned that they had something to offer the coach. As a stranger in town, he needed a “family.” He got it from the parents and friends of his students.

 Having someone believe in them (not only as runners but as students and men) was the real gift that the coach brought to the kids. Conversely, the coach and his family needed to feel accepted and loved by their new neighbors. Mike (my son) told me years ago that great sports movies usually have very little to do with sports and almost everything to do with relationships.McFarland is just that.

 I won’t ruin the ending for you, but the three of us cried not because of the results of the cross-country season, but because of the written epilog run before the credits. It told us where each of the students was twenty years later. It’s a great movie for you and the junior high kids. It is also a great way to see that people with different backgrounds and different perspectives can learn to respect each other and even grow to love each other.

 Have a peaceful week,


Terrence Hanley


 PS        Yes, I intentionally mentioned my whole family by name. And I have to send a copy to Mike to see if he knows what I’m really writing about. God bless us all.

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