April 15, 2016

Chatard theater director, teacher dies as chaperone on spring break

By Natalie Hoefer

Bishop Chatard High School theater director and teacher Kyle GuytonBishop Chatard High School theater director and teacher Kyle Guyton, 22, died suddenly of complications from asthma on April 5 in Krakow, Poland, while serving as a chaperone on a school-sponsored spring break trip to Europe.

Guyton was a 2011 graduate of the school. As a student, he was very involved in theater. He carried that passion in his teaching career, which began at Chatard last August after graduating in May from Indiana State University.

“He was a very genuine young man,” said Deacon Rick Wagner, principal of the Indianapolis north deanery high school. “He was loved. He had a real passion for theater, and a real passion for young people. It was a beautiful thing to see the two come together.

“And he was an outstanding Christian role model. It’s so important to have that in your school, especially [in] a young male.”

Some 50-60 students came to the school for prayer and counseling the two days such services were offered last week, while the school was on spring break.

On April 11, a school-wide memorial service was held in honor of Guyton. According to Deacon Wagner, about 1,100 students, parents and members of Kyle’s family were present as the young teacher was honored.

“We’re very sad, of course,” Deacon Wagner said. “But because we believe in the resurrection, we were able to make this a celebration of his life.”

Holy Angels School in Indianapolis also held a memorial for Guyton, who served as the school’s music teacher for the last five months, said principal Peggy O’Connor-Campbell.

Through her role as a teacher and principal of the former St. Andrew-St. Rita Catholic Academy in Indianapolis, O’Connor-Campbell has known Guyton since he was 5. Guyton attended the school for kindergarten and grades one, two, five and eight, graduating in 2007.

“He was a beautiful person, a hard worker, and he always had a smile on his face,” she said. “He had such an even temper, a great sense of humor. He really connected with the students here. He was extremely talented.

“Besides missing him as a person, I’ll miss that there won’t be more people to benefit from his talent with theater and music. There will be a lot of people that will miss out on his genius.”

Guyton is also being remembered in a special way by a club he was involved with—Chatard’s Thespian Troupe 3392. Leaders of the club from 2008-10 started a fund to help with funeral costs, for the renovation of classroom 102 where Guyton taught, and toward an endowed tuition assistance fund for Chatard students interested in theater.

“While we were in cast and crew with Kyle, he worked tirelessly to make the productions the best they could be,” reads a statement by the troupe posted at bishopchatard.thankyou4caring.org/kyle. “Ask anyone who knew him, and they’ll tell you about the kindness, charm and sense of humor that he had when approaching every venture we shared.”

O’Connor-Campbell recalled a conversation with Guyton’s mother, Kathy O’Neal, shortly after learning of Guyton’s death.

“We both commented that there are people coming from all walks of life that say, ‘I know Kyle,’ ” beyond classmates and students from Chatard,” she said. Such people include members of Grace Apostolic Church in Indianapolis, where he not only worshipped but helped with productions; Pike Performing Arts at Pike High School in Indianapolis; and students who attended many Mother Theodore Catholic Academy “Great Spirit” summer camps at which Guyton assisted over the last several years.

O’Connor-Campbell noted that Guyton was a great role model both as an African-American and as a Christian. She recalled a video he posted to Facebook of him playing piano at Chatard before a school Mass.

“He panned to the altar, and then he panned back to himself and said, ‘It’s almost time for Mass—time for me to get my Jesus on,’ ” she said.

As The Criterion went to press, funeral arrangements were still pending as the family awaited the arrival of Guyton’s body from overseas.

“Even though it was for a short time, we were blessed to have Kyle with us,” said Deacon Wagner. The work he did will leave a lasting impact.”
 

(To contribute to the Kyle Guyton Memorial Fund established by Chatard Thespian Troupe 3392, log on to bishopchatard.thankyou4caring.org/kyle, or send a check made out to the fund to Bishop Chatard High School, c/o Kyle Guyton Memorial Fund, 5885 Crittendon Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46220.)

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