Hannah was a student in my US Humanities class in her junior year at Cedar Rapids Washington HS. I was proud of her and the important work she was doing at KUNM and how passionate and caring she was. I always assigned my students to write a “Letter About Literature,” a letter to the author of any book that has been meaningful or memorable to them. Hannah wrote to Dr. Seuss about his book “The Lorax.” Many of my students go on to submit their letters to a national contest. Hannah’s letter was awarded second place in Iowa. (The letter can be found at the Iowa Center for the Book’s Letters about Literature page – 2008 winners.) In it she concludes, “So maybe someday I’ll speak for the trees, with their lack of tongues. But your impact on my life goes beyond trees! Maybe I’ll speak for something else, tongues or no – something or someone that is valuable but underappreciated, endangered, misunderstood, or repressed. You have always taught a part of me to be my own person, to be firm in my beliefs. That means I am empowered to search out who needs speaking for, and to be the one for the job! Unless someone like me cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better – it’s not. I know this to be true, no matter what the circumstances, and if I want anything in life to get better at all, it is my responsibility just to care. Wish me luck.” Hannah did go on to do all that, and my heart aches that she won’t be continuing that work.