It was Thursday, Oct. 20, and it had just stopped raining. Dozens of students, parents, teachers, and administrators avoided puddles as they made their way to the Youth Performing Arts School Main Building. Nearly all of them were dressed in black – some for the service, some for Red/White Week’s “Doomsday,” and some for both.
Lisa Pham (11) entered the building from 2nd Street. As she approached the door, she saw through the window a black wall. It was covered with pictures of, articles about, and messages to Mr. Clint Vaught (Oral Communications), who had passed away on Tuesday, October 18. In the center was a large head shot of Mr. Vaught, emblazoned with the words “Own the Moment.” In front of the wall were more podiums and posters containing dozens of photographs depicting Mr. Vaught’s life.
As Pham, a former student of Mr. Vaught’s, entered the reception to his memorial service, her eyes began to water. “When I was walking over from Manual, I kept telling myself that I shouldn’t cry and I felt like I was strong enough to not cry,” she said. “But once I got there and saw the collage with all of his pictures, I broke down.”
Once inside, however, the atmosphere of the memorial changed to one of laughter, which rang through the auditorium as the memorial proceeded. Mr. Vaught’s former colleagues told of his time at Manual, each speaker evoking both titters and tears – and some leaving their audience rolling in their seats. Mr. Greg Kuhn (Assistant Principal) told story after story about Mr. Vaught, from his security responsibilities to his motorcycle. Mr. Larry Wooldrige (Principal) explained the background story of a photograph depicting Mr. Vaught holding a bass guitar. “He didn’t play the bass,” he said. Mr. J.C. Reedy (Assistant Principal) explained that most of the crazy things he had ever done, he had done with Mr. Vaught.
The final speaker was Julian Wright (11), who had also taken Mr. Vaught’s class, and who talked of standing strong and moving forward. “Julian was the only current student who spoke, so I felt the strongest connection with what he said,” David Carroll (12) said.
In all, over 500 people attended Mr. Vaught’s memorial. Matthew McCardwell (11) was one of them. McCardwell had taken Mr. Vaught’s class his freshman year, but had also attended Mr. Vaught’s Young Actors Institute several years before. “The best part of the ceremony was being surrounded by so many people that loved Mr. Vaught,” he said. “I adored how wide a breadth of friends he had, everyone from the teachers and administrators at Manual to his students to his acting colleagues to his preacher. It was just astonishing to see so many people in his life before my eyes, even parents of children. He just touched so many and it was lovely to see everyone taking time to reflect and honor him in their own ways.”
Emily McConville is a junior at duPont Manual High School. She is the copy advisor of the Crimson Yearbook, the assistant copy editor of Manual Redeye, and the captain of the Manual Speech Team. She hopes to major in Journalism and Political Science after graduating high school.