Rabbit Hole

A few days ago, a rabbit’s hole. This time I feel into an internet rabbit’s hole filled with high school memories and the desire to look up some of the people that I came across back then. What started this fall? Curiosity.

A Pennsylvania grand jury released decades and decades worth of information filled with the names of people of the clergy who had done the unthinkable: betrayed the trust of their flock through manipulation and sexual abuse.

I did not go to school in PA. College. That was about it. But I was curious to see if more information was available in these reports that would run me into priests who I had contact with in my youth. I was very lucky. Most of my experiences with the Catholic Church were positive. In fact, I ran into more priest who encouraged my independence rather than patronize me by giving me the kool-aid. Instead I had healthy debates and, in the end, I left the Catholic Church and now describe myself as an atheist.

Out of the hundreds of the clergy that I was taught by and counselled, there was one on “the list.” I had one class with him. Science. He was a science teacher. He stands out for me because he was a throwback to a time when priests smoked and cursed and talked trash. Every other priest I met at the time were very holy. It was scandalous to see or hear them speak any other way. But according to some vague reporting, he was implicated in some sort of sexual abuse that led to his bankruptcy.

The report read that he did not admit to wrong doing but he accepted his punishment. He taught science in my high school a few years after those events. Not a single thing was heard about his past when I was his pupil. Not even a rumor. Not a peep. No warnings.

After learning these things, I thought it best to equalize it by searching for the teachers and members of the clergy that made a positive  impact on my life. It’s been thirty years since my high school graduation and my one regret is that I’ve only returned once to my old high school. That one time was to collect my high school diploma in the summer of ’88. I wish I was more engaged. So this search was bittersweet.

Sean Sullivan, Principal

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He was my math teacher in my freshman year. He taught my cousin and one of my best friend’s too. He was a former pupil at the school too which means he’s been there for most of his life. Now he’s the principal of the school and teaches math. Tough but fair.

 

Paul Krebbs, Principal

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He was the principal when I attended. He was Brother Krebbs then. Shortly after I graduated, he left the clergy, married and became the president of the school.

I was never a trouble maker but when I was (i.e. caught drunk/hungover, arguing with a teacher when he ripped a note I was writing out of my hands), he was fair.

When I was caught drunk/hungover, he helped my mother find a counsellor and a rehab. When I had my disagreement with the teacher, he removed me from the class, brought me assignments that the teacher had assigned to the rest of the class and challenged me to take the final without taking a single class for half the semester. I passed. It was Spanish. I’m Puerto Rican. It’s my second language.

A few years after he was honored at the Obama White House for being one of ten educators who excelled in their craft, he retired.

Brother Daniel Lauber, Biology

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When I broke up with a girl I was despondent. I drank lots of liquor at a time when I could had gotten drunk on a teaspoon of cough syrup. I felt like I was going to die. I don’t even know if I was serious or not but, at fifteen, it felt serious enough. I had no one to turned to so I called my high school’s direct dial. Brother Lauber answered. He was a young, cherubic man of about thirty. He told me to come over to the school in a shaky voice. From a few blocks away, I could see the front door of the high school building open and there he was waving me in.

He sat me down at the exclusive teacher’s lounge, made me a cup of tea and talked with me for an hour or so. His hands trembled while he talked. I will always remember him as one of the people during my life’s travels who have saved my life.

In 2014, Brother Lauber passed away from bacterial meningitis at the age of 60.

Tom Borgioli, American History

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Mr. Borgioli taught American History. Here he is with his sons.

Before I attended his class, we were told that he would stop for about week at 1963 and teach us every JFK assassination conspiracy under the sun. It was entertaining and educational. Mr. Borgioli was also a Varsity Baseball coach and a baseball scout for the Baltimore Orioles.

He instilled in me my love for American History to this very day. I went to college for it and I self-teach as much as I can. Learning history, particularly American History is a hobby of mine and its all thanks to him.

Mr. Borgioli passed away last year at the age of 64.

 

About Ray Onativia

Blogger, Photographer, Human.
This entry was posted in high school, My Life, new york city, on my travels, thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Rabbit Hole

  1. Ramona says:

    I really think they should have different classes for people who grew up speaking Spanish. Maybe they didn’t learn “proper” book Spanish but they have a head start on people who are totally new to the language. (Maybe English-speaking folks could go to SSL classes?) The community college where I’m taking Spanish offers a “Spanish for Spanish Speakers” course and that made me smile thinking about the Cheech & Chong song.

    Thanks for sharing this journey through time with us.

    Liked by 1 person

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