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Salem High School remembers longtime educator who lost cancer battle

Salem High held a moment of silence Saturday night ahead of the Lady Lions basketball game to remember Derek Smith, who lost his battle with cancer on Thursday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — He was known as the voice of the Lions.

Mr. Derek Smith went to everything – every concert, game or student council event. When he wasn’t announcing over the PA system and keeping score, he was taking pictures.

“Derek was at every event. I know people say that kind of stuff, but he was at everything,” Hank Weedin, Salem High athletic director, said. “He would have 200 pictures of every event.”

His wife Shelli, affectionately dubbed the queen of concessions, would be there too. They didn’t have children of their own but found their calling in the halls of Salem High School.

“Basically, his kids were every kid that ever came through our halls,” Weedin said.

The news hit the school community hard. Many found out Mr. Smith was sick at the end of October.

“Then the last week, week and a half, it went fast. I think nobody was ready for that,” Weedin said.

Thursday, Shelli announced the cancer had claimed Derek’s life.

“Getting the news with Derek yesterday, it hit home, and it hurt,” Weedin said. “And then you know you still got two more.”

Credit: Salem High School
Derek Smith

The school has two others battling cancer in the Salem High School family – Konnar Anderson, a senior band member and Ms. Elliott, a teacher’s aide in the special education department. Both are currently undergoing treatment.

Weedin said the school is hurting a little bit.

Before Saturday night’s game, a soup dinner was held to raise money for the medical bills for all three families.

“Just everybody in the community trying to reach out and support the only way we know how,” he said.

The most touching tribute is the school’s baseball diamond, now and forever known as the Derek Smith Field.

Credit: Salem High School
A sign dedicating the baseball diamond to Derek Smith was unveiled during the Lady Lions basketball game at Salem High School on Nov. 6, 2021.

“He’s one of those guys who’s irreplaceable.”

If you would like to help the school, you can send a check to Salem High School and make the memo “Lions Helping Lions.”

The school assures all donations will go to the families.

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