Published Sept. 9, 2021
BY EMMA BROWN
Renaissance man Ayden Reed, a member of Carmel High School’s junior class, passed away July 12, leaving behind memories of his vibrant laugh and giving personality.
Cast in the lead role for CHS’ production of “Clue” his freshman year, Reed was a clear star from the beginning.
“Ayden just came in for an audition and blew us all away,” former CHS drama teacher Gracie Poletti says. “He became such a central part of our drama program…literally everyone loved him and everyone loved working with him. It’s one thing to be talented, but it’s another thing to be able to work with people, get along with your cast and be a leader in the professionalism of it. And he was all of those things.”
Ayden began his acting career when he played Michael in Ragamuffin Musical Theater Company’s “Peter Pan.” From that point, he got involved with plays at Carmel Middle School, eventually being given the Outstanding Student Award for Drama.
“He had a really warm presence on stage,” says 2021 CHS grad Michael Lakind, who acted in multiple shows with Ayden. “He was a talented guy and he was really young, but he knew how to work, which was crazy. He was a real professional who had focus, yet he knew how to goof off and have fun. He was just the best.”
In addition to his dedication to theater, Reed’s interest in the arts extended into the realm of music, landing him a spot in California’s All-State Honor Choir.
“I would hear him in his room singing, and it would just make me feel so good to hear him,” recalls Lisa Reed, Ayden’s mother. “He was so dedicated to his choir. He would just be in there singing all the time.”
Reed began his choral journey in the sixth grade with instructor Tom Lemkuhl, who proceeded to guide him on his musical journey throughout his time at CHS. Lemkuhl would eventually bestow Ayden the Director’s Award for all his hard work and dedication to the program.
“Ayden was always the mother hen of boys’ choir,” says Lemkuhl. “He was always more mature than the other people around him. I relied on him to shepherd them to do the right thing.”
His hard work could be seen, not only through his accolades, but through the music he produced in conjunction with his friends and members of his choir.
“Music was what connected Ayden to the world,” CHS junior Brielle Coombs says. “During quarantine, we actually wrote a song together. I got to sing it at his funeral, which was just amazing and something tangible.”
In recent months, the world of dance had also taken Reed’s fancy, his specialty being tap dance, and he planned to attend classes three times a week in order to improve upon his new passion.
Outside of the arts, Ayden Reed had a passion for the past, and was fascinated by history and the world around him. This love led him to Carmel High’s Model United Nations Club, which he joined his freshman year, where he was recognized in 2020 with the Position Paper Award for excellence in his formation of a summation on his country’s viewpoints on an issue.
“His curiosity always blew me away,” Lisa Reed says. “He had so much interest in the world around him. Starting at 9 years old, he knew about the Ottoman Empire and all these wars. For every Christmas, I would get him books. He was such an intellectual.”
Both at home and at school, Ayden is remembered as a loving and nurturing soul, displaying an altruistic capacity for giving and talent for brightening the world around him.
“Ayden was selfless and infectious,” says CHS senior John Campo, who became friends with Ayden through their mutual involvement in the drama program. “He helped so many people. Those going through major depression, issues with their families, bullying, he would talk to them and they would feel better. He gave people life.”
Other friends of Ayden Reed share almost identical stories of his compassionate nature and giving soul, all describing his willingness to help people in their time of need, with no judgment or expectation of retribution.
“During freshman year,” remembers Ben Lakind, another friend of Ayden’s. “I was telling Ayden something, and he just said, ‘You know what I don’t get? People trust me with everything.’ And he was right, everyone would go to him to talk about things. He was easy to trust, and he always earned it.”
Ayden Reed will be remembered within the Carmel community for his invaluable contributions to the arts, his infectious laugh and his benevolent efforts to improve the lives of anyone he met. His dedication to his passions continues to inspire former classmates as they strive to follow his example by working every day to give more than they take and love with no bounds.