Leuzinger High School Class of 1981
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Leuzinger High School Class of 1981 - Message Board

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Teacher Walter Kaplan (2003 Obituary)
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Terrence Poublon
02-11-2008 12:50pm
Kaplan, Walter April 20, 1925 - July 24, 2003

Beloved husband of 47 years to Mariam and devoted father to Marcy (Keith Berlin) and Abby.  Walt had wonderful friends, colleagues and students in his life's journey, and touched the lives of all who will cherish special memories of him.

Walt was born in Philadelphia, PA and served in WW2 in the Italian Campaign, 3rd Division, earning a Purple Heart at The Battle of Anzio.

He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford University in Journalism and History (1949 & 1950).  For 34 years, Walt was a dedicated teacher and advisor to The Olympian Newspaper at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, CA.  Walt served as editor of the B'nai Brith Record and was beginning his 10th year as President of the Marina Del Rey B'nai Brith Lodge # 3037.  He was a recipient of the Maimonides Award in 1991 for outstanding and meritorius service and was a past Commander of Jewish War Veterans Friendship Post # 617.

Services to be held on Sunday, July 27 at 4 PM, Hillside Mortuary (800) 576-1994. Tributes to Marina Del Rey B'nai Brith Lodge c/o M. Barr, 2658 Colby Ave., L.A., CA 90064 or JWF Friendship Post #617 c/o A. Toberman, 1138 S. Glenville Dr. L.A., 90035.

Published in the Los Angeles Times from 7/26/2003 - 7/27/2003

Teachers and Our Nation's Future
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Terrence Poublon
02-12-2008 11:43am
There is no profession more valuable to our nation's future than that of being a teacher. A good teacher goes beyond the subject at hand and helps students to see the world beyond their own experience. A good teacher doesn't open a single book, but rather, he opens his students' minds, inspiring them to pick up many books during a lifetime.  A good teacher pushes us to go further than we thought we could and helps us turn our dreams into reality.

We are blessed to have many fine teachers who helped us shape our sense of ourselves. Everyday these men and women touched the lives of those around them in positive and meaningful ways. And we say, 'Thank you' for a job well done.

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. -- William Arthur Ward

Memories of Mr. Kaplan
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Esther Fernandez Walker
02-12-2008 11:52am
This email brought back so many memories of Mr. Kaplan. I read it amazed at how much we don't know about the people that teach us. I was in Mr. Kaplan's newspaper class back in high school, and he taught me so much and had such an effect on me that years ago, after seeing the movie Mr. Holland's Opus, I set about to find him. I wanted to tell him what he had meant to me, how I still write to this day, and how much I learned from him. The Leuzinger office tracked him down and he called me. I told him that he had made a difference in my life and he was so touched. He told me that he had heard of students calling other teachers to tell them these things, but that it had never happened to him, and he had always wondered if he had really made a difference. The best part of this story is that he didn't remember who I was, which to me meant that I could have been any one of his students over the years, because he probably made a difference to so many.

How interesting to know that he fought in the war and received a Purple Heart, and that he went to Stanford, where I just spent the weekend visiting my daughter. Thanks, Terry, for keeping us in touch, and for bringing back great memories. And for everyone else out there, go find a teacher that made a difference, and thank them. You'll make their day. :-)

Re: Memories of Mr. Kaplan
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Kris Hayhurst
02-12-2008 12:06pm
Thanks, Esther for sharing that; Mr Kaplan was my teacher for English and Journalism, and was one of my Dad's teachers at Leuzinger in the late '50's.  Dad and I have talked about Mr Kaplan and what kind of teacher he was for us.  I remember his critiques of my work, harsh to my teenage eyes. As I tried to improve, he was there to encourage and work with me.  That was and is so unusual, yet very effective.  

I wished I had taken the time to find him as I did with Ms. Omdahl.  He, too REALLY cared about the end product, which was more than just writing.  I'm truly humbled. The things I learned from him have been underscored by learning what I never knew about him.

Re: Teacher Walter Kaplan
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Kim Noland
02-12-2008 03:13pm
Thanks Terry!  I remember Mr. Kaplan.  It is funny how when you are young you don't even think about what a teachers life is all about.............  Thanks for sharing.


Re: Teacher Walter Kaplan (2003 Obituary)
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Katheryne Koelker
02-13-2008 09:29am
Some of the things in the obituary (such as the Purple Heart) were things I had never known about Mr. Kaplan at all!

He always had a 'Quote of the Day' on his board (he was my English teacher during 10th grade).  The quotes gave a person something to think about.

Re: Teacher Walter Kaplan (2003 Obituary)
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Vince Aleccia
04-17-2008 03:20pm
I remember Walt Kaplan fondly. I served on The Olympian for two years (1969-1971) serving as editor-in-chief the first semester of my senior year (Class of 1971). Walt had the touch of an accomplished teacher: He inspired you to do your best and let you know that he believed you could do it. I went on to teach both English and journalism for 30 years in Southern California, Northern California, and Southern Oregon. I still think of him frequently in my current job as a professor of education training pre-service teachers at Eastern Washington University. Thanks, Walt.

Re: Teacher Walter Kaplan (2003 Obituary)
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Nancy Maloney Reynolds
08-13-2008 02:57pm
I have always considered Mr. Kaplan to be the best teacher I ever had.  He pushed me to do what I didn't know I could do.  I have wondered so many times about him.  I so wish I had contacted him before he passed away.  I echo the sentiments of others who have written here, let your teachers know what they have meant to you.  As a teacher myself now, I know how much it would mean.  

Nancy Maloney Reynolds '72

Re: Teacher Walter Kaplan (2003 Obituary)
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Fred MacDonald 1959
12-23-2008 02:33am
In the lives of many students there is some adult who says in so many words, 'You're doing a great job at this; you should consider making it your life's work.' It's always a pivotal experience for the student. It offers valuable adult insight into what might be a successful career path through a confusing world.

Often, the person making the suggestion is a high school teacher. For me such an observation came from Walter Kaplan in his role as sponsor of the Olympian newspaper.

I was impressed when he came to my freshman English class recruiting for next year's Journalism I. As he explained, the class could substitute for English II in fulfilling a graduation requirement. But a scheduling error placed me in Journalism III, the class that turned out the weekly student newspaper. Rather than confuse the registrar even more, Mr. Kaplan allowed me to stay with the staff and learn the newspaper craft on the job.

Near the end of my first semester in Journalism III, he allowed me to run in a schoolwide election for the position of next semester's Olympian editor-in-chief.  Other older, experienced staff members wanted to run for the office. But Mr. Kaplan would not allow that because he knew a little-known sophomore could never be elected running against a popular junior or senior. Instead, he had recognized something in me and said essentially, 'You've got a talent in this field, kid, let's see what you can do with it.'  I ran unopposed and was elected.

It was transformational. His actions focused my energies and life goals in the direction of reportage and writing. And these crafts have been fundamental to my career as an historian and author.

It is with deep sadness that I learned here of Walter Kaplan's passing. I never saw him after I graduated from Leuzinger in 1959, but he has been part of my life for more than a half-century. And I am so much the better because of that.

Good night Mr Kaplan, and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

J. Fred MacDonald
Leuzinger 1955-1959

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