Letter to the Editor: A Ripples advisor’s legacy

We, the alumni of Ripples, write to thank Mr. Michael Halloran for nearly 20 years of service as faculty advisor to the independent student newspaper that gave hundreds of our voices a home. His hard work and dedication inspired in us a love of journalism and a deep understanding of its importance to democracy. It also fostered our curiosity and gave us a moral purpose that would endure for decades—long after our own bylines disappeared from these pages.

 

“Journalism is a human business,” Mr. Halloran liked to say—a truism that spoke to both the empathy we owe to our sources, as well as to the patience we owe to ourselves. On occasion during the course of his tenure, when school administrators or staff took issue with something that appeared in the paper, Mr. Halloran always stood up for his students and for a free press. But equally as important, he impressed in us the importance of getting it right, and the power that earnest humility has to smooth over any disagreement. “If you put your best foot forward, people will take you seriously,” he would say. 

 

A small sample of how Mr. Halloran shaped our Shorewood experience, and our lives:

The space you created enabled some of the best and most fruitful hours of my teenage years, and helped me to develop a frame for looking at the world I still carry around. I hope you retire knowing you’ve opened up a world of good for a lot of kids, who remain inspired by your example to this day.”

— Patrick Jarenwattananon, Class of ‘03

 

Your passion for the newspaper and the way you gently encouraged my voice helped build my confidence. Ultimately my four years working on Ripples shaped the trajectory of my life and my career and motivated me to help other student writers find their voices. Your example as an educator continues to influence me today and I can only hope to foster as supportive, ambitious, and creative communities as Ripples.”

— Annika Konrad, Class of ‘05

So many things made Ripples special and make you special as an educator. I think what it boiled down to for me was your willingness to treat us as grownups. Most high school kids desperately want to be taken seriously. In Ripples, you took us and our ideas seriously in the way we craved, which was an incredible gift.”

— Lizzy Pierson, Class of ‘08

Thank you for believing in us and letting us take intellectual risks, try on new ideas and ways of doing things, and always providing us the space to experiment, fail, and grow. I often reflect on the way you talked with us when I work with my students now and it is heartening to know that the world is full of ‘Ripplers’ that came into young adulthood under your watch.”

— Bix Firer, Class of ‘04

You helped a lot of us find our powers.”

— Patrick Taylor, class of ‘08

Congratulations, Mr. Halloran, on two decades of inspiring young Ripplers. And thank you for all that you’ve done. 

 

-The Ripples Alumni Network, 2001-2020