7/20/2010 -- two years.

by Lynn Sparks on Friday, July 20, 2012 I'm always frustrated writing notes on Facebook as somehow between the completed draft and the publishing my paragraph separations, punctuation, quotation marks and underlined titles totally disappear! Clint was my techno-savvy format fixer. I'll miss him as long as I remain "here and now" on this earth.

I must be intentionally drawing out going through his things. I learn new things about him that way.

Recently I did begin sorting through his closet and found a small file of papers that he gathered while making out scholarship and college applications. Several wonderful letters of recommendation written by his high school teachers were among them; I don't remember him ever showing them to me. I want to share one of these "new" letters I found; it brought Clint -- during his busy Senior year -- fresh to my mind again, plus a couple of other considerations.

Consider this letter in quotation:

March 2, 2009

Letter of Recommendation for Clint Sparks

Dear Sir or Madam:

In my thirty-five years in the classroom, three young men stand out in my mind, two of those for their amazing intellect. Clint Sparks is one of those two young men.

Clint is an unusual young man because his brilliance is not limited to science and math; nor does he specialize in history, although he is, as I understand it from his other instructors, equally accomplished in those areas. It is primarily in my IB English classroom that I know him.

Shall I tell you that without any instruction or guidance, he can deconstruct the most complex novel or poem, analyze it, and discuss it as well as if we had spent weeks on it in class? Shall I tell you that upon reading for the first time the most complex metaphysical poets, Clint is as discerning and competent as if he had been studying them for months? Or, finally, shall I tell you that he is as talented as a young writer, both in original poetry and expository writing, as any young man that I have taught?

Frequently, when confronted with group work, especially when a product is involved, the most gifted students have trouble interacting positively and openly with their classmates. This is not the case with Clint. Whether he is working with a partner or a small group, Clint is very much in demand because he shares openly and works positively to support his classmates in their success as well as his own.

Recently, when I had to be out of the classroom during a critical period of preparation for IB orals, I asked Clint to take over my role as teacher for a day. He guided the class through the study of incredibly challenging poetry by one of the most intricate and complex poets of the 20th century. Beautifully, he did so without hesitation.

In addition to celebrating Clint's academic excellence, I have had many conversations with Clint, ranging from ethics to politics to minute points of grammar (which even few young English professionals understand today). In all of these conversations, Clint has proven himself to be articulate, thoughtful, sensitive, and high-minded. He makes good decisions based on his own maturity and sense of right and wrong, not on rules imposed on him from others.

I cannot imagine an area of life in which Clint will not be successful. Whether in a university setting or in life, Clint Sparks is a young man who will succeed. I would be proud to have him as my neighbor, my minister, my senator. I am sure he will shine in any arena.


Linda Pribyl


Blue Valley Teacher of the Year

IB 12 English Instructor

I think I'm figuring out the format finally, Clint!! Hopefully it will publish as drafted. ?

I sometimes wonder, and perhaps occasionally will do so until I can ask God directly, "What might have been?"

I imagine that Clint may have graduated from Rolla last spring, or next spring if he continued with a double major per plan. But, that thinking is speculative folly.

Many have lovingly stated that, although we cannot perhaps understand "why" Clint was taken, we can be comforted that "God knows best."

Since God gifts mankind with free-will to choose his own path, I cannot see God as a cause-agent in Clint's seemingly early death. However, I can accept that God allowed "time and chance" to intersect with His laws of physics/science when Clint made a tragic split-second mistake of not looking to his left again before crossing to the median. But, God is able to resurrect Glory from tragedy and ruin!

I re-read Job this spring. This time I read from the paraphrased Living Bible that Rick had gifted me (my request) in the 1970's. Upon reading God's response to Job (Job 38:1-2a), I now better understand why every knee shall bow!

Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind: "Why are you using your ignorance to deny my providence?"

Another joyful and everlastingly grateful reaction from this mother to the recommendation letter is this: I'm sure Clint still shines -- reflecting God's Light!

Thank you, our precious Heavenly Father and LORD, for Clint!

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