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Garrett's funeral was very emotional. When the balloons were released and the Hogs were called, I almost lost it. Father Fred and Steve Straessle did a great job! I was glad to see Garrett's life celebrated as more than a Razorback which he will always be.
Sadly...another UofA student has passed away. http://newswire.uark.edu/article.aspx?id=17315
No BystandersLetting go of a good kid is hard to do. Letting go of an exceptional kid is almost unbearable. At Catholic High, we’re surrounded by boys who are striving to be exceptional young men. You should see them. They all enter our doors as scared..., shaking little freshmen who are wondering if they can survive in a school with no girls and no air conditioning. Then, as seniors, they graduate as confident young men who know that they are armed with strong faith, a strong work ethic, and the ability to endure life’s pitfalls. No easy roads are promised at Catholic High. Instead, Catholic High promises the strength to rise to challenges and to be more than just an average man. Oftentimes, we are fortunate to get a few freshmen who are not shaking and scared…we get a few of them who are quietly confident in their ability and revel in the challenges we present them.That was Garrett Uekman. Back in the days when iPhones were still new, when Facebook was still just for college kids, and back when Seth Armbrust actually had short hair, Garrett Uekman came to Catholic High from one of the smallest parochial schools in the state. Yes, he stood out. Yes, he was easily identified as a gifted athlete and one of the smart kids. But, more importantly, he slowly built a solid reputation for being a man of faith and a man who respected and adored his family. To say that the other boys looked up to him is to say that Everest is a mountain. He was just that good. I teach a class of seniors in American Politics and my classroom is right next to a classroom of freshmen World History students. And…every year, I try to make an impression on the freshmen by getting on to an exceptional senior for something small. Years ago, I took Jake Bequette to the hall to get on to him and I did it just like this…..a couple of years ago I got onto Garrett Uekman, just like this….and then once I got on to Seth Armbrust just like this….The message was clear to the freshmen…the expectations are high here and no one is immune from correction. Garrett, for his part, smiled through the entire exchange. He knew what was happening and knew what his role was. I heard one freshman say, “Man, if he’ll get onto to Garrett Uekman like that, God only knows what he’ll do to me.” Garrett knew he was the example and reveled in it.At Catholic High, we have one rule that encompasses all the others, one rule that transcends everything else and is at the heart of Christ’s message. That rule is: Never be a bystander. If your faith is tested, defend it. If someone is hungry, feed him. If one is downcast, encourage him. If your test is difficult, prepare for it. If your friends are troubled, step up. If the little guy needs you, be there. Bystanders watch life go by. People like Garrett Uekman get in the game. Bad things happen when bystanders are in the crowd. Good things pour forth when people like Garrett step forth. You don’t live your dreams by twiddling your thumbs when action is called for. You live your dreams by getting into the game. It’s just that simple and Garrett was the embodiment of that spirit.Another quick story….We have no tolerance for bullying at Catholic High. Every school says that, but we mean it and we have some unorthodox ways for handling it. A couple of years ago, I had a report that a big, tough freshman was bullying another freshman. So, I called the boy into my office. When the freshman walked in he was greeted by big tough Garrett Uekman and two other big tough senior football players. I told the freshman that I had heard he was a bullying another kid and that it was going to stop. I asked the seniors if they’d like to say anything and Garrett, in his letterman’s jacket stood up and leaned in to the boy and said, “That’s not the way we do things here. So let me be clear. If it happens again, Mr. Straessle is not your problem…I am your problem. Do you understand?” The big tough freshman gritted his teeth and looked Garrett in the eye and said… “Yes sir.” Problem solved. You see, Garrett was a leader. He got in to the game. He was not going to be a bystander when he could have impact in a positive manner. He made others, through his actions, want to be better.What a gift. What an example. Danny, Michele, Meagan, please know that your Catholic High family grieves with you. Please know that your son was a North Star to many of us. Please know that many Catholic High lives breathed easier because they were in Garrett’s orbit. If there is a legacy that Garrett Uekman could leave for us, it would be to never be a bystander. He lived a life of action backed by strong intentions. He lived a life rooted in going the extra mile. He lived a life of stepping up. This I know….bystanders chase dreams. People like Garret Uekman live them. God bless you, Garrett. God bless us all. -Steve Straessle, Principal, Catholic High School for Boys, Little Rock, Arkansas
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