Alumni Artists

The arts have always had a place at Lawrence Academy, though it was only in 1963, with the hiring of William Ross Searle (1936-2017) that a full-fledged art curriculum was established. Bill Searle was young, talented, and eager to help Headmaster Arthur Ferguson, himself a musician and an art lover, to realize his long-held dream of a “real” art program at the Academy.

Arts classroom circa 1970s.
As Mr. Searle wrote in a 1991 letter to LA’s historian, Doug Frank ’68, “[Ferguson’s] love of art and a long-held dream to have an art center built and named after himself, prevailed.” 
Students in the Black Box dance studio circa 1990s.
The first art department occupied two basement rooms in Sheedy Hall, the dorm once located where Ansin now stands. Within a few years, however, Arthur Ferguson’s dream became a reality with the construction of the Ferguson Building, which opened in the fall of 1967. The facility gave LA its first dedicated fine arts wing, complete with a photography lab, a music rehearsal room, and a theatre. Writing about his first year at Lawrence, Mr. Searle continued in his letter: “Something new that also happened in 1963 was the formation of a theatre program. It had been non-existent. There was a stage in the gym with a curtain and some lights, but no evidence of theatrical productions … I asked for someone to help me put on a play. Alan Whipple, [also new to LA that year,] volunteered enthusiastically, and Lawrence’s theatre program was begun.” 
Music classroom circa 1970s.

Mr. Whipple ran a strong, strictly extracurricular theatre program for several years, until the arrival of Brian Smiar, LA’s first full-time theatre teacher, in 1972. Mr. Smiar three productions per year, one each term. shows were the first to run for several successive nights, Wednesday through Saturday.)  

Though Brian Smiar professed to hate musicals, his arrival heralded — or at least coincided with — the start of the big Broadway musical era at LA. Fall productions were usually plays, and talent shows and the like occupied the winter, but the spring was reserved for the musical.  

The musicals also gave a boost to the music program, which in those days consisted only of a chorus and a band. The band members, supplemented by three or four outside professionals, started practicing the score in the fall, and the hard work showed in the fine quality of the 15- to 20-piece orchestras that accompanied the plays.

Pursuing the Arts after Graduation

Adèle Borden ’08

Adèle Borden ’08

Participant Media

Amanda Champagne Meadows ’01

Amanda Champagne Meadows ’01

US Weekly

Taylor Selé '02

Taylor
Selé '02

Actor

Meg Lewis '10

Meg
Lewis
'10

Paramount Pictures

Lynne Hartwell ‘08

Lynne Hartwell ‘08

Warner Brothers

Richard Ellis ’70

Richard
Ellis ’70

Entertainment Executive

Chris Hazzard '03

Chris Hazzard
'03

Screenwriter

Kristin Achtmeyer ‘02

Kristin Achtmeyer ‘02

Costumer

Alumni in Athletics

Not only do we have plenty of notable alums who have taken what they have learned at LA and applied it to their careers beyond Groton, Mass., we also have a number of former Spartans who have gone on to accomplish great things in athletics. Check out our Alumni Athletes page to learn more.

"Lawrence, in my mind, was very much about ‘The Work,’ you know? I think that to do well at LA, you just had to do ‘The Work.’ ‘The Work’ was celebrated, whether that was the poetry competition, the play, or athletics."
 
Chris Hazzard, Class of 2003

Course Offerings

Want to see all our course offerings for arts at LA? Feel free to click here to check out our 2021-2022 Course Guide.

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