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Inspirational teacher to be missed

Analisa Sandoval | Monday, April 26, 2010

Upon reflection of our early school days, the most potent memories are often associated with one particular figure. More often than not, we can pick out one person who made our education light up. We identify one person who had the power to inspire, to spark our curiosity. Someone who demanded our best effort, yet never had to ask because we wanted to exceed his expectations. We all have these figures in our memory, and for me, his name is David Thurston.

At Los Alamos High School, Mr. Thurston taught honors biology for juniors. Aware of his reputation as being both eccentric and academically demanding, I went into Mr. Thurston’s class with trepidation. I did not realize his enthusiasm would reshape my academic path.

Mr. Thurston wore a tie to school every day, because education was something to be taken seriously. These ties ranged from standard stripes to Donald Duck to DNA’s double helix. School was serious business, but it didn’t have to be boring. He commanded everyone’s attention, yet found a way to engage us all on a personal level. His class was not a passive environment — to be in attendance demanded full participation. An integral part of his teaching was his ability to connect with students, something he accomplished with a dry sense of humor. The Kreb’s cycle became the tale of a broken down car, mitosis was a story acted out with Play-Doh. Mr. Thurston transformed biology from a flavorless array of textbook pages into a world of molecular battles, complex cooperative systems and intricate works of art.

His passion was palpable.

Mr. Thurston taught biology but he did more than present facts. He described the history of the universe and beginning of life — big bang to Homo sapiens — in less than five minutes. After battling with leukemia for just over a year, he said his final goodbye this month. He will be missed by students, parents and all who felt his ardor. He passed on an eagerness for raw knowledge, knowledge gained purely for its own sake. Thank you, Mr. Thurston, for having the courage to inspire us all.


Analisa Sandoval


Welsh Family Hall

April 25