Newton North High School Principal Jennifer Price sent out a letter to the school community following last week's loss of two members of the faculty. Last week Robert Mitchell , 60, a latin teacher at the school since 1990 passed away, and three days later soccer coach and guidance counselor Ucal Mckenzie, 33, died after he collapsed while playing soccer.
Pasted below is the note complete with details about ceremonies and words of remembrance.
Dear North Community-
I am writing to first express my sincere appreciation to everyone who has| helped our school get through the last few days. From the outside counseling, to the food deliveries, to the well wishes, we have truly appreciated the support. This last week has only reinforced my view that.
North is an amazing community and a supportive family. Thank you all.
I wanted to share with you information about the upcoming services for both Ucal and Bob.
We will be holding a celebration of Bob's life at North on June 20th at 1pm in Lasker Auditorium. This celebration will be followed by a brief reception. Bob's family is participating with us as we plan this celebration. We are looking forward to celebrating Bob as a community.
Wake, Friday, June 5
6:00 - 9:00 p.m
Murphy Funeral Home
1020 Dorchester Avenue
Dorchester, MA 02125
Funeral, Saturday, June 6
New Beginning Church of God
500 Talbot Ave
Dorchester, MA 02124
Ucal's wife wanted me to relay to our entire community that we are invited to participate in this process. She also wanted to let us all know that there will be an open casket at the wake. The funeral is planned to be a celebration of Ucal's life.
Through the generous donation from First Student, our bus company, we will be providing buses to the funeral on Saturday for interested students, parents and faculty. The buses will depart North at noon on Saturday and return immediately following the funeral. We encourage parents to accompany students to both of these events, as students will certainly struggle. Students and faculty interested in taking the bus need to sign up in their house office by Friday morning. Students who will not be accompanied by their parents on the bus will need to bring a permission slip in order to get on the bus.Thank you all. I have copied the write-ups for both of these amazing menif you did not get to see them before.
Ucal McKenzie, our beloved guidance counselor, soccer coach, friend and colleague unexpectedly passed away on Saturday afternoon.
Ucal was an incredibly talented counselor who connected with each and every one of his students. Counseling was not a profession for him, but a calling. He was a uniquely gifted young man who worked hard at his craft and who became personally connected with every one who came in contact with him. Ucal was a vibrant and passionate colleague who lived every day to the fullest. His laughter was warm and infectious, and, no matter how you felt, he made life look better. His love of music, and particularly music he could dance to, was indicative of his love for his native Jamaica.
Ucal was a huge presence in this school. He was a doer and an unsung hero who took up any task that was put before him. He was dedicated and committed to our Newton North community as exhibited by his work with many different people on various projects. He was the Peer Mentor advisor, he coordinated the Senior Faculty Scholarship Committee, and he advised the Break Dancing Club. His vibrant and passionate spirit echoed throughout the halls of Newton North. He never missed a moment to give of his time. He gave his time to us as if he held eternity in his hand. He never said no.
As the coach of the Boys Varsity Soccer Team, Ucal showed a tenacious spirit that was shared with each member of the team. Ucal was just as passionate about playing soccer as he was in coaching soccer. The spirit of his words and actions buoyed his team in victory and defeat. His humble demeanor mirrored his inner and outward beauty. His selfless nature and manner inspired us all.
Ucal, most of all, loved his wife and his family. He was a loving husband and a gentle human being. Above all, and most importantly, Ucal, was a believer in the good in all people, and he truly was a special human being. It was said, “There never was any heart truly great and generous that was not also tender and compassionate.” That was Ucal McKenzie.
This has been a challenging week for our community. We have in place a counseling team from across Newton who will be providing support during the day in the library for staff and students. Information regarding memorial arrangements will be posted on our website as soon as it becomes available to us.
Bob was an enigma: he was fiercely intellectual, uncannily erudite, a teacher who held himself and his students to the highest of standards, and kept in contact with many of these students as they went off to study classics at elite colleges and universities. Yet he prized his many years as a laborer in the construction industry, drove his “classic” 1988 Ford pickup with pride, held season tickets to BC football, and felt at ease in any company. Bob gave his whole to any student or colleague who asked for his help. He asked for the best, gave his best, and anyone—anyone—who wanted to join him felt his welcome.
Bob taught methodically and chaotically. The routine from day to day never varied: seniors in his AP class knew that they would be responsible for thirty lines of Virgil every night, and every day—up to and including the last day of the last term of their last year in High School—they would spend with the text, heads down, reading, translating, interpreting, entering into, as he put it, the Roman mind. Yet Bob also knew when to ask his students to raise their heads and join him on one of his tangents, excursions to the battlefields or libraries or political intrigues of the Roman Empire, the monasteries of medieval Europe, Dante’s Inferno, Dicken’s London, or the Baseball Hall of Fame. In his classroom, he let students know where they were and what they were doing, but they never knew where they might end up. It was an adventure.
Bob always seemed like he was in a hurry. He would walk down the halls, and always, when he saw you, he would call out, in passing, “Hey, how you doin?” as he rushed by, coffee in hand. You had to wonder how he could be in such a hurry, because he rarely arrived to class, or a meeting, or anywhere, on time. But when you walked with him, you walked, and you stopped, and he talked, and you walked, and you stopped, and he talked, and sometimes you got to talk, and you didn’t really know why you were stopping, or even, after a while, where you were going, but the stopping, and the talking—the conversation—this, you learned, had become destination enough.
Perhaps most telling about Bob was not only how much he knew, and how well he communicated what he knew, but also his undauntable good will. Bob was always cheerful, and in all his years of teaching, he never became angry with a student, never scolded a student, never treated anyone with anything but kindness, dignity and respect. But he did much more than this: he raised and cheered us all. He reminded us that the life of the mind—life—is fun and exciting.