Whether it be Animism, Religious Revolutions, or some other course, various religion and philosophy classes are offered each year to challenge Seabury Hall students and help them begin to expand their minds. If you have taken one of these classes, you probably also know the awe-inspiring teacher behind them, Mr. John Dependahl.
Dependahl strongly supports high school students taking religion or philosophy classes, stressing the necessity of engaging in the important things of life. “At the age of 16, students are beginning to get their driver’s permit. So in other words, if you can drive a car, why can’t you drive your life? I think between the ages of 16 and 18 is the perfect time for students to start thinking about the things that matter,” stated Dependahl.
This year, Seabury Hall is sad to say goodbye to Dependahl, who will be resigning in order to complete a book on pilgrimages, which he has been working on for the past six years. “It’ll be a bestseller,” said Dependahl.
Sam Frampton, a current junior in the Philosophy Club, reflected upon what he respects most about Dependahl. “I admire his values and his intentions and how he goes about teaching his classes. I admire his openness and old-fashioned teaching styles,” said Frampton.
Possessing a love for philosophy and religion, Dependahl definitely plans to continue philosophizing after leaving Seabury Hall. Philosophy is a way “to describe the human condition and to point towards a path or a way of life of improving the human condition. Religion offers the prescription for the description,” said Dependahl.
Before Dependahl became a philosophy and religion teacher, he was Seabury Hall’s chaplain. Looking back at his career at Seabury Hall, Dependahl recalled a particular moment that resonated deeply with him. “[I remember] when I was the chaplain at Seabury Hall, I represented the school at the honoring of the death of nineteen Molokai volleyball boys. To be in that high school auditorium, filled with all the people from Molokai and to hear their aloha when the priest brought the order, it was so deep and sad. When I returned to the altar at our chapel, we put up a candle for each one of those who had passed. And throughout the week, people brought flowers, and leis, and plumerias. Chapel was held five times during the week at that time. For the whole week, all five days, people said their prayers. It was true community,” noted Dependahl.
Symposiums are also another component of Dependahl’s experience teaching at Seabury Hall that he will always remember. “The opportunity given to students, teachers, and parents to engage in a living dialogue about important issues and questions. What really inspires me about the symposium is the opportunity it gives to humans to get off their computers. Unplug!” said Dependahl.
Besides Seabury Hall, Dependahl will also be leaving his advisement this year, whom he will dearly miss.
“I have a really lively advisement, their enthusiasm for getting together as a group. They just enjoy each other, and that is something I’m going to miss. I like them and I think they like me and it’s a mutual orgy of liking each other,” remarked Dependahl.
Lily Pickering, one of Dependahl’s junior advisees, addressed what she will miss most about having Dependahl as her advisor. “[I will miss] our morning games of hangman and him always making fun of me and Alissa. He always loved my art and we would always do big murals together, and it was just so much fun,” said Pickering.
Dependahl wishes to leave students with the message that they must engage in the world around them, rather than live in confinement. “The ostrich syndrome. We are like ostriches with our heads in the ground, thinking we are removed from the suffering in the world. Knowing that, we have all the access in the world right now, and yet we don’t feel the world in our body, instead we bury our heads and say “hang loose,” said Dependahl.
Seabury Hall will definitely miss Dependahl, a philosopher who has striven to continually remind the school that the word soul is an important and essential part of the mission statement and its health.