By Gabbi M. and Paige B.
It’s not often we take a moment of silence in morning meeting. Most days the theater roars with music, rambunctious laughter, and general shenanigans. But on Friday November 1, 2013 we fell silent to honor Mr. Smedley, who had passed away earlier that morning. Although many students didn’t recognize the name, Mr. Smedley is the reason we do the goofy things we do in morning meeting. He was a driving force behind the school’s unique identity.
Mr. Smedley left a profound impact on our school in more ways than we realize. Today we take pride in being academically driven while still being quirky, fun, and a little weird, which was a cultural shift encouraged by Mr. Smedley. As Mr. Simpson recounts, “In a very real way, Mr. Smedley was the guiding force of that philosophy from the minute he stepped on campus to the minute he left.” His notable accomplishments include being a founding father of two of our most renowned organizations today: MUN and our very own Fourth Estate Newspaper. Outside of school, Mr. Smedley was a man of many interests. In addition to teaching, coaching the ice hockey team, and working for a newspaper, he spent his spare time working as a Civil War re-enactor at Gettysburg. He drove across the country multiple times, toured with the Grateful Dead, and was invited to the NHL by the Chicago Blackhawks.
But for all the amazing things Mr. Smedley accomplished, the thing that he will really be remembered for is his personality. Mrs. Ziemer, who worked with Mr. Smedley in the history department said, “When you remember some people, you remember things that they did. But with Chip, what I remember was just him and his being. That was enough, and that was more than enough. I won’t remember anything he did precisely, but I’ll just remember the very essence of him.” Mr. Smedley was witty and he had a way with words that made people pay attention. In addition, his sense of humor was complemented by a big heart. Mr. Smedley’s generosity was unparalleled. Mr. Bostock, who came to LCDS in 1985, the same year as Mr. Smedley, said that he was a great man who “was very independent, strong-willed.” Mr. Bostock added, “He always had an opinion on everything; he had a mind which investigates. He never accepted status quo; he always challenged it.” His classes were adventures, and he was the teacher that every student wanted to have at least once. Mr. Smedley’s goal was to teach students to view the world differently, to push the boundaries. As Mrs. Baldwin recalled, “He didn’t buy into anything that dealt with perception or what he should say or what he shouldn’t say. He focused on what was real and he taught his students to do that too.” Mr. Smedley was determined to give his students a better understanding of the world they were living in. In addition, Mr. Smedley had an ardent love for history. When he was teaching, the story would come alive. One of Mr. Smedley’s favorite things to do was to take students out to Gettysburg and teach them hands on about how to dress a wound, how to fire a cannon; an Upper School version of Pickett’s Charge.
Our community could benefit from taking a few lessons from Mr. Smedley. Both our students and teachers should learn to love academics with passionate enthusiasm that transforms sitting in class into an adventure. We should treat every problem as an investigation and challenge the status quo. When our time at LCDS is up, we should be remembered by our peers and mentors for our innovation, generosity, and lovingness so that our persona can be felt in the halls years after we’re gone. We must not take ourselves too seriously or forget our sense of humor or our wit, no matter how stressful the year gets. For these reasons, Mr. Smedley is a model and an embodiment of what our school is and what we as students aspire to be.
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