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The Hat Chat

Remembering Mr. Justin Hager


Veteran Teacher Justin Hager passed away on Sunday, Feb. 18. Mr. Hager worked in the Hatboro-Horsham School District for two decades and taught Health, Physical Education, Driver’s Education and Adaptive PE. In addition, he assisted in coaching the high school’s football team. Mr. Hager taught all over the school district, helping many become the people they are today.

Many students crossed paths with Mr. Hager. Sophomore Emily Hoffman, one of Mr. Hager’s former students said, “He was always just happy to be in class, and it made me happy to be there. His enthusiasm made the class more enjoyable.”

Sophomore Avery Hudley said, “Mr. Hager was a really cool guy and really nice. He was kind of fatherly and made me feel safe inside his classroom. He also had very fun ways of teaching us, so it wasn’t really boring, I don’t think I ever had a moment where I didn’t like his class or disliked him.”

HH softball helmets with honorary JH sticker

Softball player Isabella Karpovich explained that her team plans to remember Mr. Hager in a special way: “Hatboro-Horsham Softball is buying stickers with JH on them to put on the back of our helmets.”

Mr. Hager was very close to his department. Physical Education teacher Mrs. Jennifer Tooley shared, “He was a very good role model, [and] he really connected with the students. Most recently, he joined as a football coach; he really put himself out there to connect with students to further the program. He loved what he did.”

P.E. teacher Mr. Kirk Holt said, “I could talk to you about a thousand different things. He was definitely student-oriented. He wanted the best for everyone. I remember his dry wit and his sarcasm, which is what I’m sure students remember him for. What I’m probably going to miss most is having someone who relates to me. We both taught sophomore health. We talked every day, bouncing ideas off each other.”

P.E. teacher and Head Football Coach, Mr. Thomas Butts said, “Coach Hager coached our cornerbacks and wide receivers. He was also responsible for running the special teams on Friday nights. He was our tech guy as well, running the team’s social media and helping with video for games. He was a close friend and coworker in addition to being a coach.”

Principal, Dr. Dennis Williams reflected, “Losing a staff member is an extremely difficult thing for everyone involved and is a severe blow to the entire school community, students and staff. For students who have developed relationships with a teacher and coach, it is hard not to see that person every day when the connection you have built unexpectedly ends without warning. From a teacher’s perspective, it can be even tougher. Teachers grow up together in this profession. They start their careers together, get married and attend each other’s weddings, attend birthday parties for each other’s kids and celebrate milestones together. So, when suddenly that person is not there anymore to have lunch with or prepare a lesson with or share a joke with, it’s devastating. There are some members of the staff that are in pain right now.”

The high school is selling t-shirts to honor Mr. Hager’s legacy and to raise money for his family. The design is simple yet holds a lot of meaning. It is the same one the Phys. Ed. teachers wear as their uniform. HH Librarian, Mrs. Lauren Nash is running the sale and said, “When I saw Mrs. Tooley and Mrs. Sacony on Tuesday (the day we came back to school after Mr. Hager’s death), they were both wearing their branded shirts.”

Branding those same shirts with Mr. Hager’s initials would following the pattern set by the Phillies when they honored sports announcer, Harry Kalas. Mrs. Nash said, “Close to 400 t-shirts were ordered. Kids had a connection with Mr. Hager.”

Sophomore Alex Figueroa said “I bought the shirt to be able to remember him, he was a great teacher. I might not have known him very well personally, but I knew that he was active in the Hatters family, and I know that he had an impact on many.”

In addition to the shirts, high school faculty and staff fundraised through a dress down day. All proceeds went towards the GoFundMe that his family members, Mary Latza and Lynn Hager, set up for Mr. Hager’s sons, Ethan and Evan. The original funding goal was $5,000, but as of now, over $43,000 has been raised.

Family photo from Justin Hager Memorial Fund (
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Charlotte Chapman
Charlotte Chapman, Staff Reporter
What is a favorite hobby of yours: Horseback Riding What do you look forward to working with The Hat Chat: Interviewing people because it’s cool to get to know new people I would normally not talk too. What college do you want to go to: Not sure What's an interesting fact about yourself: I have been riding horses since 5th grade, and I am a camp counselor in the summer
Madison Smith
Madison Smith, Staff Reporter
What is a favorite hobby of yours: Drawing What do you look forward to working with The Hat Chat: Learn about upcoming events What college do you want to go to: Not sure What's an interesting fact about yourself: I work with horses and I know how to ride western. I also love anything horror related, you can catch me watching a Halloween movie on Christmas Eve.

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