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November is one of those months when most people take time to reflect on their lives and give thanks for all that has been bestowed upon them.

I’ve always felt that it is not just the holidays or special dates that bring out the best in people but rather those difficult times that we face on any “typical” day. We all face challenges in life and, many times, are present to watch others facing those challenges.

It’s what each of us does at that moment, how we act and react, that defines who we are as individuals and as a culture. There is a show on TV, hosted by news reporter John Quinones, called “What would you do?” On this show they put unsuspecting people in a position where they are observing other people in a distressing situation and then videotape the actions (or nonactions) of all spectators. It provides an insightful testimonial to human character at its best or worst.

Since coming to Page Hilltop, I feel that I have been blessed by a school community full of amazing people, both children and adults. I could go on and on about all the times I have witnessed a member of our school community with some need and the incredible acts of kindness that have occurred as a result.

We have teachers and staff who consistently give of their time and personal finances to provide support for their students and families. We have a parent base that also steps up whenever there is a need. We have programs to support families during the holidays, a snack-pack program that provides students with nutrition on the weekends, food and clothing donations to the Loaves & Fishes pantry, scholarship programs that ensure that no child misses out on a school field trip or special event due to lack of finances, care packages that go to our deployed troops and so much more. We have raised money for charitable causes and held special programs at school to promote positive social awareness.

We are a school community that cares not just about the quality of education our students receive but also the quality of life they grow up in.

We have all recently been witness to an unprecedented display of compassion for another human being. When PH teacher Kaitlin O’Connell decided that she would literally give a part of herself to Richard Finlay, she set a standard of caring and empathy that I doubt will ever be easily matched. We can all make monetary donations that help fund vital research. We can compete in physical challenges for the benefit of others. But how many of us are ready to undergo a voluntary surgical procedure with no guarantee that we will come out of it with no problems? How many of us would donate one of our own organs with no guarantees that it won’t affect our own

Random act of kindness, bucket-filling, paying it forward … Kaitlin’s decision was so much more! I do not believe that I am overstating it when I say she saved Richard’s life as well as the lives of Karen, John, Conor and Shaelyn Finlay. I do believe she has also had a significant impact on the lives of many others.

I know I will be forever impacted by this. We will never know for sure whether the person who donated the liver for her dad, Barry, was moved by Kaitlin’s story but I do believe there is some connection to be had. Hopefully, all of the publicity will prompt an influx of future live organ donors.

We will not all have this opportunity to provide another person with the donation of one of our organs. But we can all make a commitment today to do good things for others, to better our community, to teach our children to be role models of compassion and step forward whenever there is a person or a cause that needs our help, to pay it forward.

Fred Deppe


Page Hilltop Elementary School

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