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Terry O’Day posted a condolence
Friday, February 8, 2019Two years ago I reconnected with a man who was a tremendous positive influence in my life, Michael Ditchkofsky. Michael taught me in his Modernism course at Holy Ghost Prep in 1990-1991. Facebook brought us back together after a regrettable span of more than twenty years. Chalk one up to social media if you are keeping score, because in addition to reconnecting, I am blessed to have been able to tell him some of what I will tell you now. So many people and events make us who we are, but beyond any doubt Mr. Ditchkofsky profoundly influenced who I am today. The Modernism class Michael created for us was a groundbreaking experiment anywhere, but especially in a small and sometimes provincial high school. Some of the concepts there blew my mind, and I still look at art through a different lens that was first opened on our class trip to MOMA. Arriving at college was humbling and I stumbled a lot, particularly as a first-generation college student, but Modernism gave me something that was exceptional. In 1991, I had never been further west than Ohio, but I had it in my head to go to college at Stanford University. No one from Holy Ghost had ever gone on to Stanford, and I was told by many that I should not even apply. Not only did Michael confidently counter that advice, but I truly believe that he wrote the recommendation that was dispositive in my admission. I never had the chance to read the letter, but I know in my bones that this is true. He remembered writing it and spending real time on it. Today, I take great care with recommendations for young people. At graduation, we worked together on a valedictory speech I would give. That Michael would give his time for one-on-one drafting with me was an impactful expression from a teacher with a reputation for excellence. As it happens, I entered the endeavor quite angry. The administration wouldn't let me quote Cat Stevens’ song “Oh Very Young” due to Stevens’s anti-Catholic activities. This is the kind of thing that could really rile up a 17 year old boy! Michael’s independence and irreverence helped me realize it wasn't a big deal and led me to write something authentic and fitting - I may not have accepted that guidance from anyone else. Lest you think this rigorous education was devoid of fun, Michael brought his personality into every class. The stories he told about his time in Chicago married learning, passion and drama. His disdain for the trappings of tradition - like when he said "Penn is the asshole of the Ivy League" (apologies to any readers from Penn) - helped root me in a more genuine appreciation of quality in thought and education. His honesty, style, and off-handed remarks about the writers and artists we studied personalized these creators. He couldn’t help but openly admire Julia Kristeva’s impossibly high cheekbones. He was my first teacher whom I noticed to have approached learning in an adult manner. Indeed, I have often reflected that he was my first "professor." Twenty-six years out of high school I was happy to share these thoughts with Michael. Today I am happy to share them with you. I don’t think he would want this to be read as wistful or sappy - that's not a space in which either of us have lived naturally - but Michael and many of us struggle with measuring and understanding our influence in the world or interpreting the meaning of our time here. For at least one high school student, Michael’s influence was immeasurable; the world he opened is filled with deeper meaning and joy. I am truly thankful for that and wish him peace.
Bruce Ingram posted a condolence
Thursday, February 7, 2019Brilliant student, captivating teacher, accomplished executive, devoted mentor, gracious friend. Michael, you were all these things and, indescribably, more. Until we meet again, I will honor and cherish the many lessons you taught me.
Neil Kane posted a condolence
Wednesday, February 6, 2019“Pray for me as I pray for thee, that we may meet merrily in Heaven.” - Sir Thomas More Earth is poorer without your humor and intelligence! Neil Kane.
Sam King posted a condolence
Wednesday, February 6, 2019Taking Michael's Modernism class as a senior at Holy Ghost was a transformative educational and intellectual experience for me. He was one of the most inspiring teachers and mentors I ever had. I hadn't seen him in many years, and am sad to know I will never have the chance again.
Patti Marus posted a condolence
Wednesday, February 6, 2019Michael will be remembered as a kind and loving neighbor . A wonderful person. He will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Rick and Diane Dreby posted a condolence
Tuesday, February 5, 2019Lenny, We are sorry for your lose. My your brother Rest In Peace. Rick and Diane
Meg McSherry posted a condolence
Tuesday, February 5, 2019Michael Ditchkofsky was a genuine, brilliant educator and person. It is sad so many students did not have the opportunity to be taught by Michael as he brought students up to their best and beyond when he left teaching in the classroom. He taught my son at HGP and gave my son the gift of his own abilities through his guidance. My condolences to all who loved him as he left a void in this world that will not be filled by any other. RIP Mr. D.
Dan Bonner posted a condolence
Tuesday, February 5, 2019My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family God Bless. Rest In Peace Dan Bonner
Dianne Teesdale posted a condolence
Tuesday, February 5, 2019Len and Dottie, My deepest condolences on the passing of Mike. May you find comfort in knowing that he is now at peace. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.-Dianne Teesdale