Where were all the Mr. Klusmans?

My thoughts on the passing of a teacher and the hateful events at a basketball game

Just after Christmas, my former teacher at Elder High School, Mr. Mark Klusman, passed away from injuries he received from a hit and skip accident. He was a tremendous and caring individual. There are many stories of his kindness and generosity. He never let a kid eat by himself in the cafeteria. I am told that after he spent over two weeks in tremendous pain in Intensive Care and it became clear that his time was near the end that he asked to pray for the woman who hit him, noting that her life would be changed forever.

This week students at Elder High School screamed racial slurs and other hateful comments at students from an opposing basketball team. What the students did was cruel. I can’t imagine the pain it caused the players on the other team. I can’t imagine the pain it caused the parents of the players on the other team. I imagine they felt helpless as apparently hundreds of students taunted and abused their child because of how they looked. That is how I would have felt as a parent.

I wish Mr. Klusman had been there. He would have stopped it. He wouldn’t have waited until the third quarter. He wouldn’t have waited for others to act. He would have it done immediately. He would have done it by himself. He would have done it because it was the right thing to do.

Mr. Klusman couldn’t be at that basketball game. Many others had the opportunity to stand in his place. The Athletic Director. The Coach. The parents. Alumni. They could have acted. They could have stopped it. They could have been Mr. Klusman. They weren’t.