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  Readers Write
     
   

"Teachers"

I wanted you to know just how much I enjoyed the spring edition of Holy Cross Magazine. Over the past several quarters, you have focused on graduates in particular areas of activity which has been very interesting. When you zeroed in on education, particularly primary education, you hit my "hot button."

For three years now, nominally I have been retired. Though I live on a golf course, I early realized that game was not my idea of a rewarding "afterlife." Somehow, I became involved in substitute teaching, and I must admit I'm having a lot more fun and satisfaction than I ever imagined. 

In each of the past three years, I have put in 70 days out of the statutory school year in Illinois of 170 days. That allows us to take off the month of December to visit our eastern family members and also lets us take six weeks in Florida in March and April. I substitute in two districts, Lake Zurich and Wayconda, Ill., anything from K through eighth grade. Since you never know until the phone rings what your next assignment will be, your life is filled with looking forward to the next challenge. 

In the past year, I was asked to give a five-Saturday seminar on a subject of my selection to a group of gifted students ranging from fifth to eighth grade. Since it was a presidential election year, I chose as my topic, "Hail to the Chiefs," and as it happened, the middle class took place on Inauguration Day. What an experience to teach a group of kids who are as interested in the subject as you are. This year, I've been asked to repeat as well as add a new topic-"Waterways of North America: Highways to History."

The key to this "afterlife" has been my undergraduate degree from Holy Cross. That entitles me to teach through secondary school anywhere in Illinois. If other Holy Cross graduates are looking for a rewarding way to spend their retirement years, I would strongly suggest substitute teaching as a worthwhile activity. 

Paul Rollins '54
Barrington, Ill. 

 

"A Sea Change on the Hill"

I have just read the summer 2001 Holy Cross Magazine and saw Professor Kenneth Happe '58 profiled in the article, "A Sea Change on the Hill." Professor Happe is a great friend of mine and was my mentor while I attended Holy Cross. I wanted to send this long-overdue letter of appreciation and inform all alumni how much Professor Happe meant to students like myself. 

I met Professor Happe when I was enrolled in a beginner's-level Latin course. I had taken Latin for over eight years prior to that, but I took his class in an attempt to "fluff" my grade point average. Needless to say, I didn't last long! Prof. Happe flushed me out by calling both my high school and my mother and getting the goods on me. Before I knew it, I was a classics major. 

During my entire career at Holy Cross, Professor Happe struggled with me semester after semester and gave me my lowest grades of any of my teachers. But I continued to enroll in his classes because he was such a powerful teacher. I will never forget how he would jump on tables and chairs in our classroom and act out parts of the plays we were reading. He said that he did those things so that we would have a greater appreciation of what he was teaching, but I honestly think he did it to scare the Dickens out of students who were falling asleep during a lecture. 

Though I learned a substantial amount from him in the classroom, many of Professor Happe's lessons never fully sank in until after graduation. In particular, he repeatedly told me that I would amount to nothing if I did not get my act together and plan for the future. He consistently informed me of how hard it was out in the real world, but I ignored him. However, Professor Happe, as I have come to know all too well, was never wrong. 

Life after graduation was hard and I had to learn to grow up very fast. I moved to a city hundreds of miles south of Worcester where I knew no one and had no money. My carefree attitude had placed me in a predicament that I had not encountered previously, and I struggled. However, when I stopped trying to just survive and started implementing the techniques of hard work and dedication that Professor Happe had tried to instill in me, I began to thrive. In that faraway place, I met my wife, befriended many people of differing ethnic and religious backgrounds, and consistently led the advertising division of my company in sales figures. Now I am in law school, still applying those same principles and doing very well for myself. 

I want to personally thank you, Professor Happe! For everything! I would not have come half as far as I have if I had never met you.

Andrew P. Lannon '96
Alexandria, Va. 

 

"Road Signs"

Thank you for printing the recent piece from Fr. McFarland. Having read about his credentials in past issues, I know him much better after reading his words. I hope the call to evaluate increasingly complex currents in our society will be heard by all. It has particularly troubled me in recent years to find few willing to engage in deep discussions of the relationship between the common good and free markets. Perhaps the media's effect of skimming these thorny issues is to blame. Maybe it is complacency in an age of selfishness and political isolation. Or (most troubling in my opinion) neglect comes from the willingness of many well educated people to allow one issue to dominate political discourse and decision making. Whatever the reasons, the failure to elevate our discourse to the level of Fr. McFarland, to form our opinions after serious thought, and to act in our every day life can and will, I believe, have serious implications. Fr. McFarland has called on us to operationalize the meaning of compassion in our business and political lives, citing many real challenges. I hope it is a dialogue he will continue to share in the pages of future issues.

Robert Donahue  '87
Bedford, N.H.

 

"NROTC"

Michael Duane '73 asks in his letter (Holy Cross Magazine, summer 2001) if the presence of a Naval Reserve Training Corps unit (NROTC) on the Holy Cross campus "should be a source of pride or a cause for concern for our College." He implies that the latter is appropriate. 

I can't speak for other graduates of the College and our NROTC unit, but, for me, the fact that Holy Cross is the only small liberal arts college that hosts a Navy unit is not a source of pride. It is, instead, a source of regret. I regret that our sister institutions have turned their backs, one and all, on the needs of their country. 

I suspect that Mr. Duane and I would disagree about the requirement for a military establishment. However, we might agree that, for the foreseeable future (especially after Sept. 11), this nation will maintain considerable armed forces.

Given this reality, the issue before us (and, perhaps, the academic community) is the cultivation of an officer corps with the philosophical grounding necessary to give effective and morally sound advice to civilian decision makers. 

I suggest that the creation of such a corps is not achieved by limiting the source of new officers to the service academies, large universities, etc. It is achieved by attracting officers whose educational foundations reflect the diversity of intellectual thought in the United States. To deny the officer corps access to the diversity offered by small liberal arts colleges is a disservice. It is a disservice to elected officials who must develop policy based on advice from senior members of the armed forces, and it is a disservice to the nation. Given our global influence, it is a disservice to the world. 

For this reason, it is important that the College of the Holy Cross continue to host the nation's last NROTC unit at a college such as ours. It is important, even imperative, so that the "College's fundamental values" (cited by Mr. Duane) will continue to become "fundamental values" within the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. 

William A. Dempsey '63
West Springfield, Mass. 
Chair, J.T. O'Callahan NROTC Committee 

 

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