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Eric Hafker--Student (Class of '86):
Without any hesitation I can proudly say some of my fondest memories and most powerful influences come from St. Francis Prep. Some of my dearest friends are those I took classes with, walked the halls with, went to dances and parties with, cried and laughed and stayed up late with, shared my greatest fears and ambitions with, played New Wave records in my room with, and graduated from Prep with in 1986. I am still good friends with dozens of fellow grads, whether it's actually getting together, a phone call, or simply catching up on Facebook. And the one thing we have in common is a genuine camaraderie based on more than just a diploma and nostalgia; it is a kind of mind meld of shared faith and integrity, a loving understanding, and gratitude for the largest Catholic high school in the country that played such a crucial and wonderful role in our destinies.One more thing--I have been a teacher at Prep for 19 years thanks to being inspired and driven by my junior year English teacher, Dr. Joseph Castellano, and my senior year English teacher, Mr. Joseph Masselli. I can still remember vividly the many literary lessons and life lessons they passionatley handed to me with respect, dedication, and compassion. What I remember most is how much so many of my Prep teachers cared about me and my fellow students. I was reminded daily of my individuality's worth, and the importance of my creativity and imagination and self awareness and self discovery.Eric Hafker--English teacher:Recently I had one of the most profound revelations of my life in the middle of one of my junior American Literature classes. We were having an in-depth discussion on how challenging it is for Biff Loman to know who he truly is inDeath of a Salesmanbecause of all the desperate lies his family embraces over the years, as well as dealing with his father's overwhelming and emotionally suffocating influence. We then discussed the many personalities we all play out through the course of our day, and how those who respect us the most , and want the best for us the most, bring out our truest selves. I stood before them silent for almost half a minute awed by what I just realized, then said to them, "I am my best self with my wife and sons. I am my best self with my family and dearest friends." I paused and made eye contact with each of my students, and both humbly and proudly exclaimed,"And I am my best self with you. You trust me each and every day to motivate and inspire you. You respect me. You listen. You say thank you. You sincerely ask me about my family and my dreams and if I'm okay. You teachmesomething new every day. You make me leave my ego at the door. You care about me, as I care about you. You allow me to truly be myself. I hope I am doing the same for you." It's true. They bring out the best in me, and I couldn't be more thankful.
I don't know of many jobs where years later, young men and women come to visit you to see you and catch up. Teachers at Prep have so many grads return years (or even months!) later to see them again, to take a rejuvenating walk down memory lane and visit their alma mater, St. Francis Prep, a.k.a. their old home away from home. There is no feeling like it. You know you're making a difference. They are making a difference. And you realize they are such an important part of your life, as well.
One more thing; one of my freshman said to a visiting 8th grader back in November, "Prep may be the biggest Catholic high school in the country, but it shrinks every week." This floored me. I couldn't have said it better myself. From caring teachers to caring students, from a hundred clubs, activities, and sports to choose from and make new bonds and friendships, to an administration that wants every student to feel welcomed, it actually feels quite intimate at Prep. It really feels like a family.
Eric Hafker, Parent of a Freshman--The first thing my son said to me about being at St. Francis Prep was, "You know what's amazing about Prep, dad? Every kid I've met is really nice. And just...normal. When you talk to them, they respond to you and smile. They hold the door open for you. They're really kind and friendly." When one of his friends from outside of Prep asked him how his teachers were, my son responded, "Freakin' awesome," and went on for about 10 minutes giving detailed information and highlights on each one complete with stories and even dialogue. My wife and I have our most important requirement fulfilled by each one of his teachers--they care, and they are dedicated, and they make incredible sacrifices to ensure his success and feeling of self-worth--making time before and after school, giving extra guidance through email correspondence with himand us, and most importantly, really noticing our son every day. Paying attention to him. Listening to him. What more could you want from a faculty?
Finally, I would be more than happy to meet with any parent and child considering Prep for a high school home, and talk one on one to share more of my experiences as a former student, a veteran teacher, and a proud parent.
Much peace! Teacher of English 9 Honors,English 11,English 12--Poetry Moderator,The Little Portion(Prep's literary arts journal)
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