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Letter: Remembering John Broza

Because of various physical problems, I was confined to a local rehab facility for much of the summer and early fall of 2011. I only received Port News sporadically, and finally, when I came back home in early October, I was able to catch up with all the back issues of Port News.

In the Aug. 18 edition, I was saddened to learn of the passing of John Broza, the longtime chairman of the Schreiber High School English Department. At the time of his passing, John was only a few days short of his 72nd birthday. I only met John once; that was in the spring of 1989 when I took his classes for a day. I dusted off my secondary teaching license and got myself on the sub-list and wanted to see what the Port schools were doing with all my tax money. Frankly, I’ve never seen a high school better equipped with visual and audio aids than Schreiber. For starters, there is the main school library plus the fact that the English and history departments maintain their own specialized libraries. Students can even gain college credits for certain courses.

Back to John Broza… he even recognized my name as a regular columnist for Linn’s Weekly Stamp News. Back in 1989, John’s classes were all well-behaved and the students were serious-minded. The last class of the day was a senior journalism class and I informally told the youngsters that I had written books on a wide variety of subjects. One of the boys asked me, “Prof. Obojski, is there a subject on which you have not written a book?”

I said, “Yes, sex.” I went to my publisher at Sterling and asked: “Why don’t we stop writing books about coins, stamps, and baseball and make some big money and do a book on sex?” The answer… “Yes, Robert, we would, but we don’t know anything about it.”

That brought the house down, and after the class was over one of the young lady students came up to me and said: “That was one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever attended.” And I was there for only a single day. The moral of this tale is: Some days everything works out, and on other days we don’t hit the ball out of the park.

John Broza brought the writings of William Shakespeare to life in his classes, and remember, Shakespeare is not all that easy to teach. John even took his classes on field trips to Stratford-on-Avon, the Shakespeare birthplace. John’s many achievements were outlined in that Aug. 18 Port News obit. There was no mention of his published writing, but I’m sure he wrote for print on Shakespeare and English literature in general. Yes, John Broza was a true Renaissance man and to paraphrase the Bard-of-Avon: John Broza best rode the hallways and classrooms of Schreiber High School like a colossus.

Robert Obojski