Joe Grates, CFNN Journalism Teacher

Saturday afternoon, on a rainy highway in South Carolina, our beloved Media Specialist, Catherine O’Horo, was taken from us. A life lived in service to others was cut short.

Her death came as a shock to a close-knit school where most of the teachers consider each other friends, even family. Catherine was no different. She loved Cape Fear High School. She loved the students she taught. She loved helping teachers.

She was instrumental in providing resources to teachers. She was quick to offer a helping hand when any classroom technology was on the fritz. She was quick to suggest a tool or an app that would help teachers with a lesson.

When I brought Journalism back to Cape Fear, there was one person more excited than me. It was Catherine. She gave me a high five and a huge smile. She said, “The Media Center is yours!” Meaning that any tool, computer, or piece of technology was mine to use. She then proceeded to rattle off a list of things we could do with our budding news program. She was ecstatic for me, and for the possibilities.

I will hold on to that memory. Catherine was my friend, and she loved helping people.

When my classes didn’t have computers to use, I asked Catherine for help. “Let me see what I can do,” she said. Thirty minutes later, a cart full of computers rolled into my room. Where did these come from? “Shhhhhhhh!” She said.

She was like that. She would find a way.

“Hey I’ve found this thing and I think the football staff can use it! It’s called Huddle Space! I want you to play around with it and make it yours.” Her eyes lit up because she found something that could help teachers share information and be better at their jobs. “Come to the Media Center and see the guy demo it for us!” So the football coaching staff marched into the Media Center on the orders of the tall, skinny lady with the passion for helping.

We bought the Huddle Space that day. The sales rep gave us a deal we couldn’t refuse. Catherine was so excited for us that she cried. She broke down and cried because her vision for us became reality. She cared that much about making us better. We use it every weekend, Catherine. It did make us better. Thank You.

Catherine was my friend, and she always took care of me.

She didn’t just help me, though. She helped everyone. She made sense of the madness that is computer carts. She fixed LCD Projectors. She fixed laptops. If she couldn’t fix it, she would find the person who could. If you wanted it, she would find it. Anything teachers felt would enhance their lessons, she would search the darkest corners of the Media Center or the internet to find it. And she would find it for a great price, too.

It made Catherine happy to help others. And that memory makes me smile.

She taught her Media Students how to use the green screen. They now make their own broadcasts from anywhere you can imagine. She made her students tech-savvy and willing to experiment.

She taught them to take chances on technology with which they were unfamiliar. She encouraged them to be creative and try things. They made robots, and they programmed them to move through an obstacle course.

She taught her Media students how to help others. They knew how to make posters for teachers. They knew how to laminate things and where to find anything in the Media Center.

She taught them the Dewey Decimal System and how to circulate books through the Media Center. She made sure they knew how to man the help desk. She was old-school and 21st Century at the same time.

Catherine O’Horo left behind a legacy. One that I will never forget. She was an amazing teacher. She was a fantastic colleague. She was a good friend.

I leave you with an Irish Blessing spoken to those we love when we are forced to part:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Goodbye, friend. I will miss you.