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November 29, 2022

Lower Merion High School alumni plan memorials to late principal

Beloved administrator Sean Hughes was killed in a car crash on Nov. 13, 2021, sending shock waves through the community

Education Memorials
Sean Hughes Memorial Courtesy of/Lower Merion School District

Sean Hughes, the longtime principal of Lower Merion High School, was killed in a car crash in Camden County on Nov. 13, 2021. In the year that has passed, members of the school community have joined together to plan tributes including a memorial garden and plaza, a children's book and a scholarship fund.

More than one year after the sudden death of Sean Hughes, the longtime principal at Lower Merion High School, members of the school community are coming together to show support and raise money for a series of tributes planned in his memory. 

Hughes served as principal of Lower Merion for 14 years and as president of the Central Athletic League before he was killed in a car crash while driving his son to a soccer game in Camden County on Nov. 13, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Kristi, and their three children, Jack, Kate and Nolan, who sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the crash. 

In the year since his death, his family and friends have met with students and alumni to plan a fitting tribute to the former school administrator. The Lower Merion School District has commissioned Miguel Antonio Horn, a local sculptor and Harriton High School alum, to design an artistic tribute to Hughes on the Lower Merion High School campus. 

The tribute includes a memorial garden and plaza, which includes a gateway to campus that will feature a photo of Hughes and his frequently stated motto, "character counts."

"As ninth-grade students 'enter to learn' and twelfth-grade students 'go forth to serve,' they will pass through this gateway, creating the kind of school tradition that Dr. Hughes so loved," the Lower Merion School District relayed in a statement

The memorial plaza and garden would require approval from the Lower Merion Board of School Directors, and could include an outdoor amphitheater for use by classes and student groups. Hughes implemented "lunch and learn," an hour of downtime during the day, and was always looking for ways to use campus spaces in ways that supported intellectual curiosity and belonging among students, Buckman wrote. 

The Sean Hughes Tribute Committee is also in the process of raising funds for two other projects planned in Hughes' memory. 

One of them is the 25-year Sean Hughes Character Counts Scholarship, which is being funded entirely through donations to the Lower Merion Township Scholarship Fund. The needs-based scholarship will be granted each year, with particular consideration for children who have lost a parent. 

The other project is a children's book, which will be written by Lower Merion High School alum Nahjee Grant in collaboration with Hughes' widow Kristi. The book, titled "Sean Becomes Principal for the Day," will be developed with an accompanying curriculum about the importance of character. 

Grant designed a sneaker in Hughes' memory, with proceeds from shoe sales supporting the committee's fundraising goals. The sneakers are selling for $80, and are available through the DayDream Kreative Studios website, a media company owned by Grant. Donations to the committee are being collected through the Education Foundation of Lower Merion, and can be made here