Posted by: Beirne | February 26, 2011


Recommendation for Stephen Beirne

Stephen is amazing.  This is not a word I’d use lightly, but it’s applicable in his case.  Though I didn’t get to know Stephen personally until he became my student in August of 2007, I knew who he was because of his physical condition:  a couple years previously, he had been diagnosed with spinal cancer and had had to take a year off from school.  During his absence, the school coordinated a couple “Standing with Stephen” initiatives (involving fundraising and card-signing, if I recall correctly) to give the school community ways to show their support of him.

While a lot of us, myself included, might have used that year to wallow in self-pity, Stephen did something far more constructive – he wrote a novel.  Entitled November Reign, it was published through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and is an enjoyable fantasy adventure that also gives a clear, but not too heavy-handed, presentation of Stephen’s Christian beliefs.  Every family in our school received a free copy, and additional copies were sold in one or two local bookstores.  Stephen earned some money from the sales, but rather than keeping it for himself, he donated it to a fund intended to make our school’s facilities more accessible to disabled students and visitors.

Although Stephen was in better health by the time he began my Honors English class last year, his cancer returned partway through the year, and he had to miss a lot of school once again.  Normally, Honors English students are expected to take AP English their senior year, but because of Stephen’s circumstances, I gave him the opportunity to switch back to regular English for his senior year, if he thought that would be helpful.  His response?  “Well … thanks, but I’d probably be kind of bored.”

I agreed.  Stephen is an excellent student.  He ended up with an A+ average in Honors English last year and in Advanced Writing last semester; based on his work so far this year, he’s likely to end up with an A+  in AP English and in Creative Writing as well.  Stephen has a great mix of native intelligence and a disciplined work ethic.  He’s well rounded, too – he’s a strong writer in various genres (whether personal narrative, creative fiction, or literary analysis), a good test taker, and a clever project performer and presenter (in two recent projects, Stephen and his groupmates chose to go first; when they were done, everyone else groaned, realizing what a hard act they would have to follow).  From what I’ve seen and heard from others, Stephen’s not solely an “English person,” either – he does well in all academic disciplines, and though his physical condition has prevented him from having much extracurricular involvement in recent years, he used to be on the cross country team, and is now one of several student editors for our student literary journal.

But perhaps more importantly, Stephen’s just a really nice, humble, gracious guy.  He’s got more reason to complain than pretty much anyone around him, but I’ve never heard him do so.  He even was one of the student speakers in this past year’s Thanksgiving assembly, sharing about how grateful he was for the various blessings in his life.  He’s a class act through and through, and he will greatly enrich the lives of those in his college community and beyond.

from Meredith Riordan, Stephen’s English teacher


  1. Dear Olga and Family

    It is with great sorrow that we heard of the passing of your beloved son Stephen Vincent. With all my heart I send our family’s deep condolences. I never had the privilege of knowing young Steven but after reading those beautiful testimonials and words of encouragement for you and your family’s future, I feel that I knew Stephen Vincent as well as I know you and his father, Steve. It goes without question that you, Olga and your family have gone through much more pain and anguish than any family should ever have to go through.

    Young Stephen was a powerful role model for all who are challenged by this disease. His unwavering faith in God is a reflection of the entire Beirne family’s inner strength that helped him get through those challenging years. Those of us who had the good fortune to know both you and Steve in those young and carefree years want you to know that we are thinking of you. We share in your sorrow and pray that God will turn your life around. If we can be of help at any time at all, please feel free to call or mail.

    Brian Whitehouse & family

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