In Memoriam: A tribute to Allen Park ’19

In+Memoriam%3A+A+tribute+to+Allen+Park+19

When I joined the swim team, Allen was a really welcoming voice; he made me feel valued and included. As the season progressed, Allen consistently took time to give me tips and help coach me. He was invested in my improvement and celebrated my accomplishments with me. He was extremely generous and I hope we can all continue to honor him by paying that kindness forward.

 — Nader Granmayeh ‘19 

 

I am so honored to have known Allen. When I think of him, I see a perfectly well rounded “kid” who was smart, hard-working, respectful, gentle, and fun to be around. I was Allen’s Chemistry teacher in 10th grade and enjoyed every minute of it! I can still picture him in our classroom, on the 3rd floor of Pforzheimer, with a soccer ball at his feet, sitting next to his buddy, Michael, known to us as “Sunny.” Allen was truly a model student who loved to laugh and made everyone comfortable in the classroom. Allen could “connect” with anyone. His senior year, Allen joined my advisory. At that time, I only had seniors (“Sunny,” Yoseph, Ashna, Schuyler known to us as “Skye,” Philip, and Ryan) so right before advisory, most of them would grab lunch from the cafeteria and bring it back to “our” classroom on the 3rd floor of Lutnick. We would eat together, talk about nothing and everything, and often play Uno. That’s also when “Skye” would play some beats and one day, Allen figured out, I did not know what K-Pop was. He was like, “What? Dr. Diop-Bove does not know what K-pop is?” so Allen played songs on his phone and he started singing along and dancing to the music. So now, anytime I hear BTS on the radio, I think of him and many fun memories come back to life. Allen’s wonderful and gentle soul will forever be with me. Words fail me to describe the pain I am feeling and I can only imagine the sorrow Allen’s grandparents, parents, sister, and Sunny are feeling. It has been a great loss for the HM community as Allen touched so many of us with his beautiful and contagious smile, whether it be on the soccer field or in the swimming pool, or in class, performing at Asia night, singing, or on a trip. It has been an honor to have known him so THANK YOU ALLEN. 

— Science teacher Dr. Ndeye Diop-Bove

 

 Allen was a pleasure to know and such an amazing person. I met him in 10th grade when he was a senior on the soccer team.  He was such an amazing captain and one of my closest senior friends that year. There was a point during the season where I was so sure I was going to quit the team. However, Allen took the initiative to sit down with me and talk about how I was such an important aspect to the team and, more specifically, the back line of defenders. I hadn’t played soccer at that competitive of a level before and I didn’t think I was cut out for it, but he made me keep going. The memories I made with the team that year are all credited to him. The memories I made with him will forever live on in my brain.  We all miss you Allen, and I will never forget the impact you made on not just me, but the entire upper school.

— Christopher Robinson (12) 

 

Like all of us, I knew Allen for too short a time. I taught him in his 9th grade year. He was one member of a spirited class of fourteen students, but among that group Allen was a brilliant light whose luster never dimmed. Needless to say, Allen was a keenly perceptive young man whose talents were of great value to me and to his classmates. He was a gifted reader and writer. But that’s not what I remember most vividly about Allen, and it isn’t that which gives me the sense that I just saw him sitting in 152T, A period, only yesterday. No, what stirs my heart and saddens me in this moment are the memories of Allen’s joyful leadership in the classroom. He was a young man who led not only by the strength of his example but by the depth of his character. As anyone who knew Allen will attest, he loved to laugh, and to joke, and to dribble his ever present soccer ball through the hallways (every hallway!) and into the classroom, and to share a smile. Allen’s warm smile is what I remember. Allen’s instinctive enlivening of the perennially sleepy A period mood, his way of using his wonderful (and wonderfully silly) sense humor to forge meaningful bonds with those around him. 

As much as Allen loved to perpetrate a good joke, he could take one, too. On the last day of the 2015-16 school year, a classmate who had enjoyed a running joke all year with Allen made him the “butt” of the joke for one final time. Allen laughed at himself, but he was also a little quiet afterward. I worried that this moment of mild embarrassment might be Allen’s lasting memory of our time together as a class. So I spoke with him after the other students had left. As soon as I asked if he was OK, Allen smiled and told me he was not only fine but actually happy that his friend had “gotten” him at least once that year. Allen felt pride on his good friend’s behalf.

These are the things I remember about Allen Park. Luckily, I won’t really miss them. They stay with me, a comfort and an inspiration, just as all of our vibrant and indelible memories of Allen will remain with us forever.

— English teacher Vernon Wilson

 

Allen was one of my favorite soccer players. He truly cared about his teammates. Allen would play any position we needed him to play, and he always gave 100 percent effort with a smile on his face. 

— Coach Gregg Quilty 

 

Allen brightened every room he entered with charisma and his infectious humor. In classes, he made classmates feel welcome even and especially when most vulnerable. Allen truly was an incredibly kind, warm, sweet, respectful, passionate, wonderful person, classmate, and friend. His memory will forever be a blessing. 

— Sophia Reiss ‘19

 

I write this knowing that I cannot begin to describe what the loss of Allen means to our community, to his teachers, friends, family, and to the world, so, instead, I will focus on what he brought to us and some of the many ways he made our school and everyone around him better.

Almost always, when I think of Allen, I think of the first time I saw him play soccer at homecoming his junior year. The team was down two or three goals with only a few minutes left in the game and almost no chance of winning. But there was Allen, darting across the field, racing to get the ball, dancing it towards the goal and between players, trying with every bit of himself to will something magic to happen. He was playing with such heart and tenacity. He never gave up. I was lucky enough to be his physics teacher that year. I still remember thinking in that moment how fitting it was that he was that kind of player on the field, because even then, less than two months into teaching him, I could tell that he was that kind of student in the classroom as well. I went to many of their games over the next two years, and every time I was so proud of Allen’s ability to give his absolute all, for himself and, most of all, for his team. He truly left everything on the field, not just in soccer, but in everything he did.

Two years ago almost to the day, I wrote a letter to the graduating class of 2019. In it, I mentioned one of my favorite quotes, from runner Steve Prefontaine who said: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Allen had a rare ability to always give his best, at all times, in all situations, joyfully and without any sense of burden. As a student, athlete, musician, classmate, and friend, Allen poured all of himself into whatever he was doing. He seemed to know that whatever his best was, was enough, and he found a way to push himself at every turn while doing so with such lightness and happiness. He also brought out the best in the people around him. He lifted up his peers, and he championed his friends.

Allen was a brilliant physics student, who excelled in our course, consistently demonstrating the incredible depth of his intellect and the creativity and freedom of his mind. But what stood out the most about Allen in our class was his kindness, warmth, and compassion. Physics came naturally to him, but he felt that his greatest strength was not that he could understand that material so quickly and deftly himself, but rather, that his understanding allowed him to help his peers. He told me that he hated feeling good about a test while others did not, so he would study by trying to help his classmates understand any topic he already had a strong grasp of. Allen cared about everyone. He cheered on his peers and never left anyone behind. His thoughtfulness and kindness set the tone for the way our class operated and his humor and joy made it a place where play and learning could work together seamlessly. He filled our class with life and laughter and placed importance on every voice in the room and what they had to offer.

I can still see his smiling face wandering through the halls. Most of all, I see him darting around the soccer field with his friends, celebrating the victories of his swim teammates’ and comforting them in defeat, playing music with his band, dancing with a crew at Asia Night, joking with everyone as he passed them in the hallway, and laughing with his classmates at the start of class as they prepared to hand in a problem set. Allen is at the center of all these images, but he is always surrounded by friends, and he always was. He had a way of bringing people together — seeing the best in them, looking out for them, and making everyone feel welcome.

Allen left every place better than he found it. He cared about the common good. He embodied the life of the mind and took advantage of every opportunity he was given. He lived every moment to the fullest, exploring his passions with drive, curiosity, and creativity, sharing them joyfully, and encouraging everyone around him to do the same. I was lucky to teach him, and we were lucky to have him at Horace Mann. We will carry him with us. I hope we will all learn from the way Allen lived his life and the kindness, compassion, and heart he brought to everything he did.

— Science teacher Catherine Crowley 

 

I had the privilege of coaching Allen all four years of his varsity swim career. He was the ultimate teammate; his impact was bigger than his swimming ability. Allen went out of his way to make the younger swimmers feel welcomed, and his sense of humor and charismatic personality drew his teammates to him. Allen was the first to run up to a teammate and congratulate them when they hit their best time. He was also there when they didn’t have their best swim. Allen was always willing to give up his spot if it meant another swimmer would have an opportunity to race. He always swam at his best when the team needed him to, and his spirit and legacy will carry on. Allen will always be a part of the Horace Mann swim team family. We will cherish the memories and carry ourselves in a manner that would make him proud. 

— Coach Michael Duffy

 

Allen was the first upperclassman on the swim team to say hi to me outside of the pool. I don’t think we even knew each others’ names yet, but I remember him acknowledging me with a head nod as we passed each other in the hall. Small gestures like that made me feel so comfortable on the swim team around all new teammates and faces, and these were just the start of a friendship that highlighted my swim experience.

Not only was he the perfect teammate and leader, but he brought me in as a friend in and out of the pool. Starting on the Hawaii trip and spanning through my tenth grade school year, I felt like I had become an extension of his group of friends, now the cool seniors. He never once made me feel like an annoying underclassman, and he treated me like a peer even though I saw him as more of an older brother that I never had.

Allen was truly the glue that held our team together, and he embodied so many traits that his friends and younger teammates clearly admired and strived to emulate.

As I’ve heard many of his friends recount over the past few days, he always put others first and got a true sense of joy from seeing others feel happy and included and watching them succeed. That’s what made him truly special.

— Eli Scher (12) 

 

Allen was a friend and a goofball. I first really got to know him in Ms. Siegel’s 7th grade biology class, where we would have side conversations during lab. One of my most striking memories with Allen was when Allen, Lynne, and I accidentally got lost from Ms. Siegel’s class in the Bronx Zoo because we got too distracted watching the baby gorilla. We spent an hour together running around the zoo trying to find anyone from Horace Mann. I, a 13-year-old who hadn’t yet even been trusted by my parents to ride the subway myself, was freaking out massively the whole time. I think Allen realized that, and maintained a goofy attitude to lighten the mood for the three of us. Allen’s sense of humor and cheeriness made me laugh, calmed me down, and gave me courage when I was scared, in this circumstance and later instances. To Allen, thank you for helping me when I was afraid and panicking, and thank you for all the laughs since then. I miss you, and I’ll hold you in happy memory. 

— Emily Yu ‘19