The outpouring of affection and caring mixed with sadness was stirring, and as his brother-in-law, I was struck by the profound connection Charles had with so many at Roswell High. Ordinary workplace and student-teacher relationships do not usually entail such deep gratitude and connection as I heard from the many people who shared their experiences with “Mr. Harbin”.
From the opening student speaker, Lauren Kennedy, to the young man bravely choking back tears as he relayed how “Harbs” helped him through a personal tragedy, to the pair of girls who tag-teamed tales of out-of-the box antics which engaged them, I heard how Charles repeatedly gave insightful advice to help students navigate the challenges of adolescence and life.
Educators and friends, former RHS Principal, Ed Spurka, fellow Literature teachers Kim Premoli and Casey Carr, fellow soccer coach and Social Studies teacher Lindsay Boyd, as well as Joel McElvaney, Matthew Lawless and others all told of an authentic and unique colleague who will be missed.
A heartfelt rendition of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” by student Kristina Kelhofer truly brought to mind Charles’ love of music, as well as making me reflect on how he gave so many strength in their hard times and how he entertained everyone as part of his ordinary day.
Towards the end of the evening, the Charles J. Harbin, III Memorial Scholarship was officially announced, a fund that will be awarded to students entering college beginning in 2012, and the students were encouraged to apply. The tribute was closed with an original poem reading by students Denise Daniel and Stephanie Lopez, followed by a balloon release in the courtyard.
As we watched the balloons ascend, I knew Charles’ would be deeply touched to know all who knew him smiled at his memory, and would wish they continue seeking happiness in each day.
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