Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2010 Barbaric Yawp of the Year

Being that a yawp is a “loud, harsh cry,” and that Tarzan had his loud cry resound over the jungle, and that Walt Whitman wrote, “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world, and being that this is my blog, I have created the Barbaric Yawp of the Year. This award recognizes a person’s yawp (voice, work, actions, life), and how it was heard “over the roofs of the world” (affect on others).

But first a few things as to the why. I like award shows that recognize the accomplishments of the past year. I like Time magazine’s Person of the Year. I like those American Film Institute’s Top 100 Lists. I like heroes and heroic stories of literature and of real life.  And I like those moments where the time is taken to say “Thank you.” So it boils down to, I like recognizing those people, movies, books, stories, pictures and moments that show excellence, heroism, courage and humanity that inspire us to achieve more.

For example, I give a Barbaric Yawp to the movie Dead Poets Society that illustrates the barbaric yawp. I give another Yawp to To Kill A Mockingbird for it is a great work of literature and gave us the noble and courageous Atticus Finch who was also named American Film Institute’s number one movie hero. I give a Barbaric Yawp to veterans and soldiers. I give a Barbaric Yawp to my brothers and sisters for they each have earned one through their lives and individual stories. I give a Barbaric Yawp to the student who stood in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square, the fireman who cradled the body of a two year child after the Oklahoma City Bombing, the “Man in the Water” from the Air Florida plane crash in DC, and to New York firemen who’s first day on the job was 9/11. The list of Barbaric Yawps is long and overdue, and I will share more of these stories later.

Anyway, now to the 2010 Barbaric Yawp of Year.

Rob Kunik.

It will be almost a year since we lost Rob. His influence on students, peers and family was and is still present. He was a good teacher, husband and friend. His yawp was heard by many. He challenged students with reading diverse text. He stubbornly held them to high standards. He loved his kids and family passionately. He fueled dreams and caused laughter. He had the courage to confront. He was a man of books and sports, a good example of a renaissance man, a Tarzan. His yawp was heard over the rooftops of the world. I would say more, but knowing Rob, he wouldn’t want me to prattle on.

The yawp that some of his students return to him is, “O Captain, My Captain.” Yeah, he liked Whitman and was a fan of Dead Poets Society. So, stand on a desk and give a yell.

It’s a jungle out there.