With the humility that truly great men display, Mr. Smith told a simple story. His ship had received a new rescue boat, and it was necessary for the sailors and officers who were to man it to practice its operation and use. They lowered the boat behind the ship and crew members entered the water to simulate the rescue. I pictured them struggling with the unfamiliar equipment, falling into the sea, splashing and diving about the boat, laughing and larking; as I have seen many young men do. It took a long time for the sailors to master their skills, to get the system down, a long time in the sea. Where was Paul Smith, where was our Marine? High above, out of the fun, he was standing guard, rifle in hand, watching for sharks. As I listened to my hero tell his story, I realized that Mr. Smith has never left that deck.
For the past thirty years, he has kept his eye on Layton High, standing ready for the sharks. For twenty five years I have trained and larked in the boisterous sea that is life at Layton High. Long or short, all our service has been the same, we lucky ones, who splash and laugh and learn. All that time, everyday, most often unobserved, Mr. Smith stood watch and shot the sharks. He never sought for glory; but strong and true our hero, our principal, made everything possible.
Mr. Smith, thank you for the long watch, the constant vigilance, the courageous action, and the personal sacrifice that made all the joy, the learning, the teaching, and the living possible; that made Layton High.
In the days of the ancient Roman Lancers, a swordsman who survived the arena and lived long enough to retire, was awarded a symbolic wooden sword, a rudis; given as a token of discharge from service, signifying his release from slavery to freedom.
This is a simple piece of wood, rudely but loving carved by a former Lancer. See it as a symbol, and as a symbol it is worth what it stands for. Let it stand for the years you stood watch, for the accomplishments of the hundreds of teachers and administrators, of the thousands of students. Let it stand for lives improved beyond words by your service, let it stand for our gratitude for all you have given in the years on watch, let it stand for Layton High.