Student News for Horizon Honors Secondary School

The Horizon Sun

Student News for Horizon Honors Secondary School

The Horizon Sun

Student News for Horizon Honors Secondary School

The Horizon Sun

Hind Rajab is one of many children killed in the war between Israel and Hamas.
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Lakewood Church is the latest location of gun violence.
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On the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 11, a 36-year-old woman in a trench coat, named Genesse Ivonne Moreno,...

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The 2024 Super Bowl was the 58th installment of a long line of National Football League championships....

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The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.
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The fundamental rights of Americans are under attack. This statement may sound extreme but it is true...

Weather Data Source: 30 tage Phoenix wetter

A Life Well Lived

With this first article, in the first issue of the newspaper, I must address what is dear.  I must address what matters.  It is the reason behind this paper, which exists inside this class, which exists inside this classroom, which is taught by this teacher, who is a part of this staff, who together make this school the wondrous place that it is—all of which are here because of the dreams of a small group of people.  It was and is a hope not for power, but for a dynamic system of collaboration, so that everyone could share in their passion for knowledge, teaching, learning, and understanding.  But this system was not a concrete set of rules and customs; nay, instead it was a way to use basic values and new, personalized teaching to provide everyone who walked through the school’s doors with the means to create something beautiful for themselves and others.  And here we encounter the heart of Jan Gleeson.

As I’m sure all of you know, Horizon Executive Director and Co-Founder Jan Gleeson passed away on Friday, October 15, nearly a year after being diagnosed with cancer.  As somewhat fewer of you may know, Ms. Gleeson was my aunt, and the foremost influence over my entire life.  She was consistently with my family: our best friend, our confidante, our favorite aunt, our teacher, the fourth member of our small family.  As a visionary educator, as well as a loving friend and family member, she filled her life with service and devotion unmatched by anyone I have yet encountered, and anyone I ever will.  These simple traits, however, can be said about anyone, and I will venture in this piece to not just tell you, but show you the beauty that encompassed every aspect of my aunt’s life.  This is a personal piece, but I wish to include everyone in the grand love and vision preached and most importantly practiced by Jan Gleeson.

As my family prepared for the surreal event that was her funeral, a wash of thoughts and emotions poured over each of us.  Hearing my parents talk and write regarding their impending memorial speech illustrated a truth: there was too much good in Jan, too much beauty and wonder and kindness in her heart.  Defining her was, is, and always will be impossible; impossible to match all that she gave and shared during her time on this Earth.  But, still, our family and others were called to attempt this mission.

I suppose I must begin by painting a picture of our school, and her role in its existence.  First and foremost, I pose this question: How many people do you know who are certain of their calling, and would pursue it to the end, stopping at nothing to give to the world around them?  Jan was a perfect portrait of this.  She had found her place in the world, her love, her passion, and she lived it.  She realized that each seemingly insignificant piece that defined the school was a crucial part of the whole, and she knew that if values were compromised, the whole would slowly become something it wasn’t supposed to be.  Everyone and everything contributed to the grand picture.

In my own time at Horizon, I have spent 12 years seeing my Aunt Jan continue to build and foster a community unlike any other.  From the early naïve embarrassment at having a relative always present at school, I grew to be genuinely overjoyed to see someone I loved so dearly every day.  No matter the situation I was facing at a given moment, from my first anxious days at a big, scary school in 1st grade to my last days with Jan as a senior in high school, just to know she was present made me feel safe and at home, always comforted.

Together, my aunt and I were able to share an insatiable love of the world around us, taking in all of the food, music, art, and literature we could consume.  We could share anything, and found such great joy in culture, and simply life—the things we saw, felt, and loved.  She gave generously, even thanking us for letting her be a part of “our” family.

Nobody listened like Jan did.  No matter the circumstance, she made sure to show that she valued your opinion, and always ensured that you were understood.  She shared and shared, and gave and gave of herself to no end, enjoying the beauty of the exchange.  As soon as anyone came into her presence, they felt her devotion to their words.  She always gave her full attention and promised deep and full thought regarding any decision.  Any boundaries that existed between people were instantly erased as soon as they came into contact with her.

Aunt Jan meant the world to me, and I would imagine the same is true of the hundreds of people who attended her service on Friday.  This is no judgment, but no one will ever know all of the work and service she performed for the people around her.  No word ever passed from her mouth crying for credit or appreciation. It simply was not in her nature.  Though she would never state it herself, I am here to say it for her.  She left us a tremendous legacy and a charge to make this world a better place, starting at some little no-count, no-matter charter school in a dirt lot in the middle of nowhere.  As she told me during her last days, now we must simply “live our lives.”  Few can say that they have positively impacted thousands of people in their life; even fewer can claim the levels of greatness and transcendence like that of Jan.

However, beyond this macrocosmic impact, there was a much greater story to her life, and one that she would certainly be party to sharing.  The little weeping first-grader struggling to make it through his first full days of school…the socially-inept genius navigating middle-school life…the petite girl who just moved across the country…all given hope by Jan’s faith in a divine plan, counseled numerous times, and left with the steadfast belief that they could make their world work.  These are no generic archetypes, but actual people touched by her days with us.  With Jan, nothing was ever left unsaid, and no emotion left unexpressed.  We as a Horizon community must understand how blessed we were—how blessed we all ARE—to have her as a part of our family.  “If you’re a poet, you do something beautiful, I mean you’re supposed to leave something beautiful…”  Then I guess she was a poet in the truest sense of Salinger’s definition.  But no, she wouldn’t want this credit; all she would want is to thank you.  Thank you for all that you do.

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