Perryville Middle dedicates memorial to beloved teacher
— Monday was a bittersweet for Shawn Lupoli.
With the Baltimore Orioles taking the field on the Opening Day of baseball, it was a pastime that was revered by his father, Larry.
For decades, his father, a longtime technology teacher at Perryville Middle School, had organized trips for the community to attend an Orioles game and share in the joy of taking in a ballgame. The elder Lupoli was so well known
for his black-and-orange passion, that it didn’t seem right for Opening Day to pass by his former Perryville Middle colleagues without doing something to remember the man who left a lasting impact on generations of students.
Larry Lupoli passed away in October at the age of 63, just two years after retiring from his second home at Perryville Middle, where he had spent his entire 35year teaching career.
So on Monday, the staff and students remembered their friend by dedicating a memorial tree to the “Un- forgettable Larry Lupoli” near the school’s entrance. And they did so with all of the revelry that Opening Day had. The school band and chorus performed “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” all wore Orioles jerseys and attire, and Shawn Lupoli and Holly Spangler, Perryville Middle assistant principal, shared memories of the late Lupoli.
“I didn’t just lose a father, I lost a mentor,” a chokedup Shawn Lupoli said. “I’ve been teaching now for 15
years. He was in this building for 35 years and so was I.”
While he still grieves the loss of his father, Shawn Lupoli said his father’s closest friends, many of whom also worked at Perryville Middle School, have helped comfort him. He said that he was thankful for the honor bestowed upon his family by the school.
Perryville Middle lead secretary Wendy Bryant, who helped organize many of the late Lupoli’s community trips to Orioles games, said the idea to memorialize his memory came quickly after his passing. After word spread of the memorial tree, many staff members and students at the school volunteered to help with a dedication ceremony for his family.
Spanlger, who worked with Lupoli for seven years before his retirement, said that Lupoli became an institution of sorts for Perryville-area students.
“He was such a big part of the community for so long that we have a lot of parents who had him as a teacher,” she said. “He outlasted so many different principals and assistant principals.”
Bryant said she remembers her friend for his enthusiasm, recalling how if a student was interested in attending the nighttime Orioles game but couldn’t get parental permission, he would call a parent himself to discuss any worries or defray the costs.
“He always wanted to take as many students as he could to the ballgames,” she said. “He just enjoyed showing them that there was more than school.”
Spangler said that sharing his passions in life, whether it was baseball, Penn State, bowling, rais- ing chickens or more, was his biggest lesson to students.
“‘Finding something that you enjoy in life.’ That was his message,” she said. “You don’t have to be the smartest kid in class or build the best project, but you should find something you’re passionate about, work on that, take it with you and enjoy that in life.”
Perryville Middle School staff surround Shawn Lupoli (right of tree, white jersey) and a memorial tree dedicated to his father, Larry, who was a longtime teacher at the school before his passing in October.