by:  ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Lawrence Hastings assigned himself an 'Estacad'haiku' project.While he clearly stays up on current events, Lawrence Hastings is more likely to pen a “haiku to the editor” than a “letter to the editor.”

Take the controversy over whether district employees and volunteers with licenses to carry concealed handgun should be allowed to carry weapons on school property:

Shotgun rhetoric

argues students learn “Be


with a hick'ry stick

Hastings spent a decade in the Estacada School District.

“I can say I spent 10 of the happiest years of my life in the junior high,” Hastings said.

Hastings started as a substitute custodian, but eventually became a substitute educational assistant.

His job was to help students understand what had already been presented and how it connected to other areas of study.

“All knowledge is related,” Hastings said.

He particularly enjoyed science teachers yearly assignment for students to compose haikus about volcanoes.

Though he had no formal training, Hastings became a “go to person” for art and music.

Hastings praised the district's emphasis on teaching critical thinking skills to its students.

“Dr. (Howard) Fetz said, or what I associate with him since he was superintendent while I was there, what we are doing is not teaching them how to live in our past but in their future,” Hastings said.

For Hastings, poetry is a way to approach the world as a diverse whole rather than a series of violent dichotomies.

“To me, poetry is the language of our higher order thinking,” Hastings said.

“When budgets have to be cut so often we have to cut those enriching activities instead of science and math so we've really got to pick up the slack in the community,” Hastings said. When Hastings retired from his educational assistant duties, he intended to take the time to pursue art and music.

But he was “derailed to poetry.”

He assigned himself an “Estacad'haikus” project where he would create poems specific to Estacada's issues, such as this one:

Vigor ain't random:

Mayor and Main Street


a Business tandem

Or this one:

Often deployed fast,

first responders know

they may

eat drink and rest last.

The town yielded a wealth of inspiration for him.

“It's natural to see both rednecks and hippies rolling up their sleeps and administering CPR to keep this town alive,” Hastings said.

Hastings gave himself an “A” (but not an “A+”) on his "Estacad'haiku" project.

What's his next assignment?

More poetry.

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