The start of a new school year always brings about changes: new classes, new teachers, and a new sleep schedule. This year, Wa-Hi also welcomed a new principal.
Former Principal Pete Peterson retired after seven years at Wa-Hi, handing the position off to Ron Higgins. Higgins has been involved in the Walla Walla Public School District since he began teaching here in 1985. “I have spent most of my years at Wa-Hi, 24 of them: 16 as a math teacher, eight years as an assistant principal, and now my first year as interim principal,” Higgins said. During his 32 years, Higgins also served as the assistant principal of Pioneer Middle School, and as both the Director of Technology and Director of Assessment at the District Office.
Using only three words, Higgins would describe himself as energetic, optimistic and a believer. As many students witnessed at the pep assembly, Higgins enjoys displaying his energy in the form of front handsrpings. “I have done it every year. This is the 33rd school year that I have. I used to tell my students ‘You’re going to flip for this class,’ and then I would do my front handspring. It is not really a flip, but that’s the basic idea.”
Higgins is especially excited to finally be back at Wa-Hi after three years. “I love the energy of students, and while I love middle school students, there is something about high school students getting closer to taking that step of being out on their own,” Higgins said. Having never served as a high school principal before, Higgins is looking forward to the new challenges that come with the job. “My role is to make sure that the staff members are in a position to be able to help students succeed in any way shape or form that they can, with the attitude that we’re here to help all students - everybody - be successful,” Higgins said.
Higgins has many goals for this year, but is primarily focusing on making sure all students have the support they need to be successful in their classes and become college and career ready. Another priority of Higgins’ is improving student involvement, whether that means means encouraging students to join a club, sport, or drama production, or simply by increasing enthusiasm for school activities. Higgins wants all Blue Devils to look back and think, “That was a really good high school experience.”
As much as he would love to serve Wa-Hi as principal for longer, Higgins understands that being a principal requires full engagement and dedication towards long term goals. “They will ask for applications and do interviews next spring. I have been told that I am certainly welcome to put my name in the hat, but for now, it’s definitely a one year interim position, which is just fine for me,” Higgins said. Higgins is hesitant to consider applying for the job of principal next year, admitting that he is closer to the end of his career than to the beginning of it. “If I say ‘yes I want to be principal,’ I want to make a good commitment,” Higgins said.
Higgins wants Wa-Hi students to know how honored and humbled he is to be in the position of principal. “It’s an awesome responsibility, but it’s a gigantic one, and I take it very seriously,” Higgins said, “but I am also very excited about that.”