A Tribute to Hanson


Photo by Adam Sosnicki

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Upon entering Townsend Harris, students are bombarded with horrifying tales about physical education, especially the intimidating Mr. Hanson. Students who have had Mr. Hanson recount running endless miles, pushups, sit-ups, and squats; alumni still have nightmares about the dreaded “Plyometric Fridays.” Rumors circulate on THHS forums about how “Hanson can’t touch his shoulders because his muscles are too large.” The classic “my grandmother walks faster than you can run” is ingrained into the minds of many; soft- spoken criticisms are not in his vocabulary.

Despite all this, students can agree that, in addition to fear, Mr. Hanson has incited confidence and motivation within students—a motivation that applies not only to health and fitness, but also to obstacles students must be prepared to deal with in life.

With his retirement, Mr. Hanson leaves behind one of the most colorful, prominent  legacies in THHS history; his portrayal has become a staple of the Founders’ Day skits and having him as a teacher has become an integral part of the THHS experience. A prime example for physical health educators, he preached and practiced the importance of staying fit in a world that has become increasingly apathetic to physical health. Many have the capability to reach their physical peaks during their teenage years—Mr. Hanson has not only helped us realize that we can and should push ourselves to this level, but has also instilled healthy habits that many of us will continue to practice for the rest of our lives. Through his physical education and health classes, he taught students how to live a sustainably healthy lifestyle.

In this day and age, teaching these habits is not an easy feat. Mr. Hanson takes a phys-ed class full of teenage couch potatoes glued to phones all day and whips them into shape. For most, the Queens College track is the place where they run their first mile for Freshman Gym; then eventually two and even three miles. Proper exercise is often neglected as part of a rigorous physical education in many schools nowadays, and as a result. the majority of students in other high schools fall prey to unhealthy habits, adding to the rise in childhood obesity. Townsend Harris is indebted to Mr. Hanson for keeping our school from being like the others. A class with Mr. Hanson can change lives, a fact for which a number of Harrisites can vouch.

Mr. Hanson also managed to teach a generation obsessed with eating junk food how to be healthy for life. His intensive health class made students more knowledgeable about nutrition and more aware of how the decisions they make affect their bodies. Students should be grateful to have had the rare opportunity of being exposed to these healthy ideals from someone so passionate about them—something students from other schools may not have experienced.

We have grown to admire Mr. Hanson, even to revere him, as he seems to transcend the capabilities of most ordinary people (you’d be surprised at how many pushups he can do on a basketball.) He has left a mark on all who had him as a teacher and left an even larger shirt to fill (stretched out by his bulging muscles). He may be leaving THHS, but he will never really leave us. Thank you, Mr. Hanson, for everything that you have done.