Weekly Letter (Sep 18 ’17)

Dear Parents and Students,

I thought it fitting this week to send Mr. Hanley off in style – his very own. Below are words he wrote himself, ones he told me years ago he’d written and continually edited. This eulogy was read by his son, Mike, during Mr. Hanley’s funeral Mass and is here now for you to cherish.

My first job was at Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Store on 24th and Irving. It was without a doubt the best job a teenager could ever have. The pay was terrible ($1.25 per hour) but the benefits were incredible. People loved us! They gave us a few bucks and we gave them ice cream! They felt like I was the Wizard of Oz bestowing a great gift on them. I loved being loved. But eventually it occurred to me that the customers were not always right. They loved the scoopers who handed them the ice cream, but completely overlooked the multitude who were far more responsible for getting the ice cream to them.

None of them considered the manager who set our work schedule and ordered the ice cream. None of them cared about the owner who had invested a big chunk of money and time in the store. Not a thought was given to the teamster who delivered the product to us each week. Mr. Baskin and Mr. Robbins, who were so instrumental in creating hundreds of delicious flavors, were never mentioned. And Lord knows that nobody, not even the scoopers ever thought to be grateful to the cows that had given the milk that was processed into ice cream. I do not mean to imply that any of you are cows, but it’s clear to me that I have basically the same job now that I had then. Thank you for all you have done for Star and thanks for letting me be the face of our beloved school.

I like to think that I learned one real life lesson at every school I ever attended. At Holy Name I learned that some people were going to root for the Yankees against the Giants not because they were from New York or because they knew a player on that team, but because they cared more about jumping on the band wagon of a winner than about their own home team. These people are called front-runners and they are not good role models.

At Sacred Heart I learned a poem:

Not to the swift the race

Not to the strong the fight

Not to the righteous perfect grace

Not to the wise the light

But often faltering feet

Come surest to the goal

And those who walk in darkness

Meet the sunrise of the soul

At USF some professor told me that the only cause worth giving your life to is a hopeless cause.

So I became a teacher in an underfunded system that teaches that we should all love each other. I was destined to fail. But my failures and those of my beloved colleagues have been glorious.

In the spring of my junior year at Sacred Heart I was called into the counselors office to discuss my senior year schedule. Everything seemed fine until the counselor told me they had me all set to take Physics. I hated the sciences, mainly because I couldn’t BS my way through them. I panicked! I blurted out the first lie I could think of, “I can’t take Physics next year!” When asked why not, the second lie came out even faster, “ I need to take two English classes, cuz I want to be a teacher!” The counselor smiled and changed my schedule. It took me years to realize that I hadn’t lied, I simply was forced to go deep into my soul to speak the truth, “I want to be a teacher.”

Perhaps the most important lesson I ever learned was that every time I give away something I have, I am left with less of that something. There is only one exception to that rule. The more love I give away the more love I have to share with others.

There are about a half dozen people who have supported me as I moved from student to teacher to principal and they served as my main source of encouragement for all those years. I hope they know that I have tried my best to never let them down. But I have learned over the years that wanting to impress them was not enough. Wanting to succeed was not enough. For me, the prime motivation for succeeding has been a terrible fear of failure. In a few days I will be able to let that burden go. But that burden was a small price to pay for such a great career!

I have a recording I want to share with you. It paraphrases Jesus and St Paul. Please listen carefully and join in if you can.

(Play All you Need Is Love by the Beatles.)

We will always remember with love and gratitude Mr. Hanley’s zest for life, his strong faith, his terrible jokes, and his constant mission to faithfully work to bring about not only tolerance, but acceptance. After all, as his favorite song goes, all we need is love.

May peace be with you,

Mrs. Theresa Poon


A Heartfelt Thank You to Parents and Students: 

The outpouring of love and sympathy from the Star of the Sea community has been very helpful to us over these last few weeks, some of the most difficult that we, currently on staff have experienced during our tenure. Your presence around the school during the days and evenings has been a great comfort. 

This week looks to be a little better. We have a new principal. Our daily schedules are back on track. And though we know that grief takes its own time and is out of our control, we find time to reflect on how grateful we each are for the years we worked with and for Mr. Hanley. And in addition, now for the most recent times, we have been able to spend with Star’s parents, students, alumni, and friends. 

Please accept our sincerest thanks for everything: the flowers, the food, and the cards. But mostly thank you for your presence, the time spent in the classrooms, the front office, the yard, and the church. 

Your kindness and compassion would make Mr. Hanley very proud. 

God Bless, 

Mr Gallagher, Vice-Principal
and the Teachers & Staff of Star of the Sea School

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