Students, colleagues, friends and family of science teacher Kenyon Scott gathered at Palo Alto High School in the Media Arts Center on Jan. 23 to celebrate the life of a man who was loved by so many in the Paly community and beyond.
Every seat was filled, and many stood or sat on the stairs as hundreds convened for the memorial. Almost all attendees wore blue and gold, the colors of Scott’s alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley. The ceremony began with students Jer Samos, Emily Read and Spencer Wycoff and Paly Choir teacher Michael Najar performing “What I Got” by Sublime, Scott’s favorite band. Samos, Wycoff and Najar played guitar while Read sang.
The heartfelt performance was followed by the speeches of two of Scott’s colleagues, Principal Kim Diorio, and math teacher Arne Lim. They recounted the quality of Scott’s character, his ability to brighten everyone’s day and his love for teaching. Scott, Lim and journalism teacher Esther Wojcicki were all hired by Paly in 1985 and remained close friends throughout the years.
“Kenyon will always be remembered for his enthusiasm and infectious intensity for life,” Lim wrote in an email to the Palo Alto Weekly. “Always optimistic, his spirit lifted everybody in the room. [He] didn’t have a mean bone in his body. And his laugh was hearty and contagious.”
After Diorio’s and Lim’s speeches, friends of Scott spoke about their experiences with him, ranging from stories about college to road trips to rounds of golf. Every story had a common theme: Scott’s incredible sense of humor and natural friendliness.
At the memorial, one of Scott’s former colleagues, from a job previous to his teaching career at Paly read comments from the Palo Alto Online post about his passing. Students wrote about how grateful they were to have had a teacher like Scott, who genuinely cared about his subject matter and each and every one of his students.
Scott’s three siblings took the stage next. They too told stories about their beloved brother and his lasting influence on the lives of those who knew him. His younger brother described how Scott saved his life on a camping trip by hiking 12 miles to get medical help after his brother was bit by a rattlesnake.
Scott died of natural causes at his home on Jan. 6. He is survived by his two daughters, Emily and Elizabeth. Scott’s Paly family will miss him, but more importantly will honor his memory by living each day with the same passion he had.