Excerpt from Ms. Duhon's letter

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Shenker and Ellie,

You have all been on my mind and in my heart since I heard the sad news about Omer. As the mother of two daughters, I can't think of a greater personal tragedy than the loss of a child. You have my deepest sympathy for a sorrow I can only imagine.

If it is any comfort to you, I want to tell you about the happy remembrances I have of Omer. I loved having him in my English and debate classes. He was so clever that I felt at times I had not reached high enough in planning challenging activities. He sat quietly most of the time until something touched a nerve or a funny bone, and then he would offer perceptive commentary. But it was in my debate class where he laughed and charged ahead with energy and enthusiasm about a policy he and his partner were researching. The debate itself would cause sparks. Omer's eloquence and articulate treatment of a political question won him many decisions. He and his partners would beam, or be determined to win the next time. Omer was the star - a formidable opponent.

We often assign these difficult political issues to the world of adults to consider and solve. Omer tackled these issues with a perceptiveness unusual for one so young, but he seemed at home with them. I learned so much from him, and I am grateful for the time he spent in my class. It has always been students like Omer who remind me of the reasons I teach, and Omer's influence on me continues to live as I strive to give more and do more for my students each year.

Please accept my sincere condolences and know what high esteem I will always have for him.


Susan Duhon O'Connor


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