Story originally published in The Apple Leaf Sept. 18, 2013.
A dreary morning early before school and a dark gray coffee cup with a large logo of Washington State University. Many credentials and diplomas hanging on the wall behind his head. Enough silence in between questions to hear the clock ticking. His first week with students at Wenatchee High School was coming to a close. His first impressions had come and gone; his lasting impact still formulating.
A normal school day for Bob Celebrezze, the new principal at Wenatchee High School, puts him at school usually by 6:30 a.m. He likes to make his own coffee when he arrives.
He arrived in early July and found Wenatchee to be pretty hot.
Celebrezze comes from Moscow, Idaho, where he formerly served as principal at the high school and won an award for secondary principal of the year. Now, he’s the principal at WHS and he’s not afraid to let it be known.
“I’m real comfortable here,” said Celebrezze. “I love the support I have here.”
The first day of school, however? “It felt a little uncomfortable,” said Celebrezze. “I think because people didn’t know who I am so they would have a tendency to stare at [me] for a while so after a while, I felt a little awkward at times.”
And day two? “It felt great,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many students have gone out of their way to want to get to know [me] a little bit.”
Throughout his first two months at WHS, Celebrezze has done a lot of looking and even more listening. Due to his awareness, his initial read is that “it’s very positive, it seems inclusive, students seem to want to be here, [and] the faculty and the staff seem anxious to help,” he said.
Celebrezze did his research. According to him, he asked a lot of people what WHS was like before even coming here.
“I researched it very heavily and I didn’t want to make a mistake,” he said.
Before coming to Wenatchee, Celebrezze knew next to nothing about the Wenatchee Valley. In fact, before applying to be principal, he had only visited once in 1986.
For his first year, he wants to continue looking, listening and learning, even though he’s a self-proclaimed “do-er.”
“You can’t come in and just flip something on a dime — that’s the wrong way to do business,” said Celebrezze.
Now that he’s here, he plans to stay for at least 10 years and doesn’t plan on leaving his position as principal.
“I plan to leave, wherever I leave, proud,” he said. “Whenever I leave, anywhere, I want to leave on top of my game.”
He also shares a concern that many WHS students have and can often be heard complaining about. “I wish the classrooms had windows,” Celebrezze said.
Former principal Mike Franza has stayed on as dean of students, and according to Celebrezze, he has realized how lucky he is to still have the support from Franza. Celebrezze thinks they both have the same philosophies but perhaps a different approach.
“He’s been nothing but great to me, and that will continue,” said Celebrezze.
Franza returned in 2011 as interim principal after principal Michelle Wadeikis’ quick exit. Prior to, Franza served as WHS principal for 5 years.
“I think it was really smart of the Wenatchee School District to hire a principal from the outside,” said Celebrezze, “but being the principal from the outside is not overly comfortable; it’s not easy because everybody else knows each other and nobody else knows you, so that’s been awkward.”
But the mistake that he was worried about making when applying? So far, it doesn’t exist. “Wenatchee High School is anything but a mistake,” Celebrezze said, “it’s a gift, so I’m very fortunate.”