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Liepolt, Longtime Staples English Teacher, Unexpectedly Retires

Former Staples English teacher Werner Liepolts desk now sits empty next to that of English teacher Holly Sulzyckis.
Former Staples English teacher Werner Liepolt’s desk now sits empty next to that of English teacher Holly Sulzycki’s.

When Matt Smith ’13 received a letter from his Film Analysis teacher addressed to him and his parents toward the end of February break, his initial reaction was shock.

“I was wondering, ‘Oh, God, what did I do?’” Smith recalled.

However, the letter did not express disapproval of Smith; rather, it informed Smith and his family that his English teacher, Werner Liepolt, had decided to retire in the middle of the school year.

“It is with the deepest regrets that I tell you of my plans to retire,” the letter read. “While I wish I could continue to witness your progress and be with you until June, that is not to be.”

For many students, the letter, which was written and signed by Liepolt himself, came as a surprise.

“I was shocked to hear that he retired halfway through the school year without finishing the year,” said Lauren Weinberger ’13, who took Liepolt’s Research and Literature class in the first semester of her junior year.

Although Smith admitted that he was taken aback by the letter, he believes it was a sincere way to report the departure.

“It was very sincere for him to write a letter to me explaining his decision, especially because he highlighted the lessons he wished he could carry out for the remainder of the year,” Smith said.

The lessons Smith refers to were quite literally listed at the closing of Liepolt’s letter.

“The hardest part of my decision to retire,” the letter read, “has been to leave the classroom where we have met and discussed the works of Homer, Cormac McCarthy, John Steinbeck, Shakespeare, Dickens, Fitzgerald and Miller and the films of Lean, Scott, and particularly Welles’ Citizen Kane.”

Some students worry, though, that Liepolt’s exit in the middle of the school year will have an adverse effect on the classroom. For Kelly Grundei ’13, who is enrolled in Liepolt’s full-year English 3 course, this is a concern.

“I think it’ll be hard for our class to adapt to a new teacher’s style of teaching because we’re all used to Mr. Liepolt and what our class is like with him,” Grundei said.

Inklings was unable to contact Liepolt by press time.

According to Principal John Dodig, the administration is in process of finding a certified English teacher to effectively replace Liepolt. In the meantime, current Staples English teachers are filling in for Liepolt’s classes.

Despite the unexpectedness of this news, students affirm that Liepolt’s 43-year legacy in the Westport school district is one to forever be admired.

“I think Mr. Liepolt’s legacy is his love of literature and his compassion for students,” Weinberger said. “He was always very caring, open-minded and supportive. I think that he will be missed throughout the Staples community.”

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Ben Reiser
Ben Reiser, Managing Editor

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