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To His Pained Pupils

I know that this is a difficult time, but I wanted to write to you all after what has happened to our Patient Professor. I hope that this reaches out to you in the best way it possibly can.

In the midst of our complicated, confusing teenage years, we tend to be too wrapped up in our personal lives and the seemingly never-ending, time consuming happenings that fill it to take a step back and breathe. People, myself included, sometimes forget how fragile life really is and how it can be taken away from us in a second. I have realised that I sometimes take my own life and existence for granted - and I take the wonderful people in it for granted too.

The incredible occurrences of 13.8 billion years ago that have been hypothesised as the Big Bang and explain the cosmological creation of the universe, and the evolution of our own species for millions of years thereafter have ultimately led to your existence and mine, and whether there be a reason for this or if it is by virtue of pure coincidence is irrelevant in my opinion. We have been given this incredible gift that is life, and we need to cherish it. What makes the undeniable beauty of a sky bathed in the pink and orange rays of the setting sun, or the sight of a powerful lightning bolt hitting the sea in the vast darkness of the night is that these moments are rare and ephemeral. They remind us of the beauty of life and of the chance we have to be here.

Amidst the alarm clocks, the coffee breaks, the bus rides, the meaningless chatter, the torn pages of our textbooks, the untied shoelaces, the rumble of the air conditioning, and everything else, we must remember that our life is a little bit of a miracle, and we - each one of us - matter.

The incredible thing about Paul Fiehler was that he always had this constant and unwavering kindness towards us all, and he always saw the best in people. I cannot express how honoured I am to have had the chance to have known a man brave enough to walk into school every morning to teach and to share his passion for literature with us, all while secretly bearing the torture of his addiction. His unforgetful smile and the glimmer in his optimistic eyes will forever stay imprinted in my mind and I will try my very best to be as caring and thoughtful as he was, even with everything he was going through. Despite some of our differences, we are all human and have shared the same feelings of pain, loss, fear, sadness, and anger in this world. I implore you all to take this as an opportunity to learn that people go through difficult times that none of us can really understand, so please, just be kind to others, just like Mr Fiehler was kind to all of us. Let us not “measure out our lives in coffee spoons”, but make something of our underestimated strength as human beings and bring goodness to ourselves and the people around us.

The importance of kindness in our lives is immeasurable and the little acts of genuine tenderness and affection are what constantly restore my faith in human beings. Remind yourselves every day that we are all struggling - some of us more than others - and would all appreciate a little bit of help. Please don’t be afraid to reach out to people when you’re in need, you mean so much to so many people and it pains me to think that some people don’t even realise this. Mr Fiehler did not die in vain; we can take away from this devastating incident the realisation that we matter, and that nothing and no one should tell us otherwise. He would have wanted us to remember that.

I am such a Proud Pupil to have known Paul Fiehler. I hope that we can honour his life by living our own to the fullest and by reminding ourselves of the importance of kindness - it is one of the most beautiful things in this world and we must hold onto it as best we can.