Mourners remember LauGel as ‘guiding force’ in arts program

By David Lim

Friends and colleagues of former visual arts teacher Andrew LauGel, who died of cancer Dec. 22, were invited to a third memorial service Sunday March 4 at the Asian Classic Institute in Los Angeles.

A Buddhist service Feb. 9 concluded 49 days of special chanting marking the death of LauGel, who was also remembered at a memorial Jan. 27 in the middle school library.

The memorial, titled “Andrew LauGel: A Celebration of Life,” was organized by Feigenson as the first of three gatherings dedicated to LauGel, who headed the middle school visual arts department for part of his over 20-year tenure. LauGel retired last spring after being diagnosed with cancer and moved to Connecticut with his family.

“[LauGel] was a man of fine character, and he was a character,” Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts said as the first of six faculty speakers. “He was a guiding force in the creation of our outstanding middle school arts program. He was a force for good, and he was a force to be reckoned with. He was impossible to ignore.”

She recalled the first time she met LauGel as a middle school science teacher working on a community service slideshow. LauGel graciously offered to help organize the slides and offered her his lightbox.

“I thought the exercise would take no longer than an hour but it took four hours because Andrew wanted it to be perfect,” she said. “[LauGel] had raised my sights. Good enough wasn’t good enough anymore. But that’s what a great teacher does, inspires you to become a better version of yourself.”

Huybrechts and Middle School Visual Arts Department Head Brenda Anderson recalled LauGel’s lengthy, multicolored and uniquely punctuated emails which he signed off with “8 ) =,” which Huybrechts later realized was a representation of his face sideways.

Ninth grade dean John Kim also played a ukelele during a slideshow of LauGel’s time at Harvard-Westlake.

Anderson read a yellow card she found on which LauGel had scribbled a quote and that she kept for the past three years on her desk.

“The arts transmit the values and ethics which are born of the human experience. We remember the values of civilizations past primarily through the arts and what we inherit from them. When a civilization turns away from the arts, it risks losing both its arts and its legacy,” LauGel wrote.   

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