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OC HIGH: STUDENT NEWS & VIEWS : A REMEMBRANCE : Thomas Halleen: A Caring Teacher

March 03, 1994|LISA OKIKAWA | Lisa Okikawa is is a senior at Cypress High School in Cypress.

There are few times in our lives when we are deeply touched by the courage and determination of a single person. Recently, the faculty and students of Cypress High School suffered a great loss in the death of teacher Thomas Halleen.

Halleen was chairman of the Social Science Department, as well as an English, government, sociology and world history teacher. He had been an instructor at the school for 21 years. He helped shape the school before its opening, giving his views on how it should look and influencing school rules and policies.

Although he had a law degree, he chose teaching as his profession, for he was happiest with "his children." Halleen enjoyed challenging his students' minds--purposely taking opposing views during discussions in order to provoke thinking.

A "celebration of life" ceremony was held at Cypress High for Halleen following his death Feb. 8. Many students spoke fondly of their teacher; of his influence on their lives. One student said Halleen had "made me a better person." Another called Halleen "my mentor and guide." Halleen knew outward appearances weren't important; thoughts were. He knew what people were all about.

Halleen had suffered several heart attacks, yet he always bounced back with more energy to teach his students and to be with the people he cared most about. Despite having cancer diagnosed last year, he came as often as possible to teach.

Since his death, many have mentioned Halleen's smile and genuine caring for others. He was especially in tune with the younger generation, even listening to their music.

Many students looked forward to entering his class at the beginning of the year, to being a part of his classroom discussions. I feel fortunate to have been among his students.

He will be greatly missed. The kindness and humor he displayed so easily will forever be remembered.

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