by Abe Asher
Nathan Carpenter wrote a thank you to Liz Harlan-Ferlo that we posted on Monday, and it was heartfelt and really well done, but you should forget it about it now because I’m stealing his idea.
So my story starts here.
I was sitting in the dining hall with two of the other three freshman members of the advisory I’d be joining when I entered high school in the fall at the freshman orientation in the Spring of 2012.
I was definitely uneasy. For all intents and purposes, I didn’t know anyone at OES and had no idea of what I had gotten myself into with my high school choice after an entire lifetime spent happily in public schools.
I cut a quiet figure that night. Polite, shy, and reserved. I still remember the insufferably kind John Ped graciously escorting me to the dinner bar as I wondered first why this kid was being so nice to me, and second whether I had tipped my hand as to how nervous I was.
Needless to say, my transition here was tough. I could be wrong, but I think Liz was the first person at OES to get me.
I think she was the first person to understand who I was, and what I was about.
She certainly understood who I was long before I realized how lucky I was to have landed her as my advisor, even though my mom told me as we walked out into the parking lot after that freshman orientation that she was going to be good news.
Over the last two and a half years, I have been more relaxed, more candid, and had more fun with Liz than almost anyone else at OES.
She was the person to first open my eyes to what an amazing place this school could be, both with her unflinching capability and competence, and her unwavering support.
I wasn’t necessarily surprised when she called what was left of our spunky little advisory – down to three people at its time of merciful abandonment (seriously, the situation this year was like when the game of Risk is in its sixth hour and you’re down to the North Coast of Africa because you’ve inexplicably rolled snake-eyes four times in a row and are about to get crushed by your friend) – into her office one Tuesday before break instead of our usual meeting place in the chapel to break the news that she’d be leaving the school.
There were signs that something was adrift, but I also felt like there was more Liz needed to explore, accomplish, achieve, and experience before settling into a safer life that lay ahead as chaplain here.
It’s an unsure path that she is about to embark on, but I always appreciated that Liz was completely unafraid to be different. It was one of things that made her most effective. So while I’ll miss Liz, I’m also happy for her.
I took one class from Liz – Religion and Social Justice in the spring of last year.
It wasn’t always my favorite class, but it unquestionably made me smarter. Not in knowledge or facts, but skills. Liz taught me how to think, and that, I’d say, is the greatest compliment I know how to pay to a teacher.
The greatest compliment I know how to pay to a friend is this: If I ever needed something, I always knew I could go to Liz.
She would run through a wall for me, and that’s only half the reason I’d run through a wall for her.
Thank you, Liz, and good luck. Hopefully I’ll see you soon.