“Remembering Cipinko”

By Cia White, High School English

stuart-cipinko-1999Stu Cipinko died on December 1st, having had a heart attack after a run. Anyone who had the incredible good fortune to have had Stu as a teacher, a mentor, a friend – Stu always conscientiously distinguished between the roles of teacher and friend; still, he was indeed a friend to students – knows what a rare gift of a man he was; the example of his integrity, his brilliance, and his dedication to the life of mind (in the wisest, widest sense) was indelible for dozens of students.

All are invited to “Remembering Cipinko” on Tuesday, December 27th from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the High School, for a chance to share hugs, tears, and tales. (Beer, wine, and casual hors d’oeuvres will be served. Remember to enter the school on Broadway!)

Facebook posts this month have amply demonstrated the gratitude and sorrow of dozens of alums. Below, just a few.

“ . . Thinking about Stuart L. Cipinko today and I picked up my copy of Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth. I still have my St. Francis copy (carried across four states and innumerable apartments) filled with my notes from his class. I have read and reread that book more than any other single book in the world and every time I open it, I think of him.” – Maggie Mendel ’06

“My dear teacher, I have wondered where your righteous rage and powerful mind have taken you since teaching me about colonialism and hegemony in high school. I wish we had had a chance to reconnect in these last few years. Your wisdom and guidance are much needed in this insane moment in history, and your laughter and hard-won praise will be missed.” – Isaac Fosl Van Wyke ’05

“When I did my Senior Project, he was charged, I suppose, with saying some kind words about me. They were touching words, words I’m struggling to remember, but what I do remember is that it was one of the first times an ‘adult’ seemed to understand me.” – Rebecca Bryant G’98, ’02

“What can I say except that Stuart saw my rage and made something human with it? What can I say except that underneath the angry public school girl, he saw something that no one else had bothered to look for? With his infinite calm, his bottomless wisdom, he reached into the lava of me. Everything cooled. He was angry too. He taught me about systems of oppression. Propaganda and how it functions. Systemic violence and where white men fit into it. He was so angry, and I was so angry, and somehow he took all my anger and showed me how to mold it into something useful. He also showed me that I wasn’t a writer. Not yet. Stuart saw the vehicle I had built with my writing and my rage and he broke it all apart. Piece by piece, wheel by wheel, he and Cia White helped me build something that would carry me where I wanted to go.” – Olivia Cole ’07

“Reading The Battle for God and class discussions about fundamentalism in world religion were life-changing for me. In the best way. Albeit frequently uncomfortable. All of those experiences engaging in debates in class with Stu moderating and challenging us. Little did we know we were cultivating an essential skill – to struggle with ideas and knowledge and sit still with the complexity of beliefs, and humanness, to eventually take those skills for struggle out into the world.” – Amanda Fair (Horton) Parmenter ’01