When I wrote about dealing with Serge's loss as a teacher yesterday it helped me sort out what I was feeling but I couldn't write about Serge specifically because I wasn't yet in a place where that would have been possible. I also had to kind of prepare myself for what was coming Monday. But now I want to share some things about my former student, Sergey Bondarchuk.
Serge was one of the best kids I ever taught. I had him and his friend Andrey in English class their ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade years and they were inseparable. I remember the first month of their freshman year I tried to split them up because they could be a little chatty but they would have absolutely none of it and once I gave in and let them stay next to each other things were great. They stayed next to each other for three years. Serge was a generally happy young man all of the time. Even when he was kind of grumpy or if I gave an assignment that was hard work or one that he deemed to be boring he would tease me about it but with a smile. Every single time I saw him in the halls he would say hello to me and most of the time I would get a handshake and I always got a smile. For some crazy reason my strongest image of Serge is from last year. He dressed nicely, like a good teenager with a sense of style would, but this one day he wore his usual attire of nice jeans and a nice shirt yet he matched it with these blazingly white patent leather loafers. I loved them immediately but had to tease him about wearing them. I said, "Serge, what is that on your feet?" He replied, "I got new shoes. Aren't they awesome?" I just shook my head slowly while he came back with, "Look Jatos, there is no way you could ever pull this off, but I can. I am the man in these shoes!" He was indeed. Serge also had a very strong work ethic. If he ever let his grade slip in class, he'd tell me that it'd be up by Monday and every single time he said that, it would be. He'd turn in everything he was missing or retake a test and ace it. He was a good writer and a very intelligent guy. He was also really funny. He would make comments in class sometimes that would fly over the head of everyone but I'd get it and we'd make eye contact and smile. I love kids like that. Serge was gentle. Last year my wife brought my daughter (she wasn't quite two yet) in during class for a few minutes and Serge was the first one who wanted to play with her. He smiled at her and she gave him a high five and he tickled her chin and she laughed so hard. It was adorable. Bethany brought her daughters in one time and Serge was the person they wound up sitting next to and coloring together. Also in Bethany's class once Bethany had some money stolen from her purse. When she told the class about it, Serge walked right up and took out his wallet and tried to give her money. That was him and those images won't ever leave me. Tomorrow will be a rough day at school not just because we lost a student. It will be rough because of who we lost. Serge was special. He had a gigantic future because he was generous, intelligent, kindhearted, and an overall special person. I am incredibly saddened by his death and I know that there are hundreds of kids at our school whose lives he touched and they are saddened too. We are all lucky to have known Serge; he made our lives better. I can't believe he's gone.
No story today either. Can't read yet.