Mr. Stevens


Go with your heart. That was his favorite thing to say to me. When I had a question, was anxious about life after high school, or any decision really, his advice was to go with my heart. When writing my personal statement for college applications, he was so scared that editing it would take out the soul of my work. He wanted everything I put out there to be authentically me and full of my genuine hopes, fears and inrterests, and he wished the same for everyone else too.
But in the end, when I went with my heart and the plan didn’t go through, we tried everything to fix it. Phone calls, faxes, he did everything in his power, most of the time without my imploring and out of kindness, to make my dream come true. It still wasn’t enough.

When all was said and done, there was a decision to be made. I had to go against my heart and use my head. “I spent all weekend thinking about you, and I mean this is least creepy way possible.” He felt guilty. That somehow it was his fault everything didn’t work out as we had planned. He felt so guilty, like he had pushed me too far and forgot to remind me that to win or lose a prize doesn’t take away from prior accomplishments.
I chuckled, really, when he said that. It was so absurd to me that he would feel guilty for giving me the best advice I had ever received. I tried to reassure him that we had both done everything we could, and that I didn’t hold him responsible. “Well I still feel bad.” Don’t. You told me to follow my heart, and no matter what the outcome, listening to your heart could never be a poor choice.

That’s the kind of person Mr. Stevens was. He invested so much in not only his students but the entire school community. Sometimes he felt bad for not having enough time to do more; he always wanted to help those who needed him and would work tirelessly to get it done.
We each knew him in our own capacity. Some knew him in passing, others hardly at all, and then there are the students like myself who spent every free period they could in is office. There was always a line out the door, meetings scheduled days and days in advance and no matter what time of day it was or how much paper he had staked up on his desk he would help anyone who knocked on his door. Needless to say, the hole in our hearts and community is felt by all. His humor and smile were contagious and his dedication to his job unquestionable.
There is so much I could say about him, but it’s hard. Sudden passing on this scale can be be unbearable, as many of us are discovering this week.
I cannot pretend to know what to say to make anyone feel better. The loss is tremendous but in order to honor his memory we must all come together and life out his legacy.

Mr. Stevens first and foremost wanted the students of Peekskill high school to succeed. He would want us to work hard and finish out the year strong. To the seniors, I hope we can take the time to say a gracious thank you to the man who helped so many of us secure our futures. To the lower classmen, we truly apologize that you did not have as many opportunities to receive similar guidance.

Mr. Stevens had so many hopes for our school. Let us strive for excellence in his memory, and may we continue to work hard to follow our hearts and achieve the unimaginable.

If anyone wishes to share a personal story or thank you, the guidance office is collecting letters and notes and there are posters stationed around the building. You can also post comments here.