BY BRIAN KEYES, JUNIOR EDITOR
Today was not only the first day back from winter break, but the first day since Wilson’s 2011 renovation that Pete Cahall has not served as principal. On December 23, DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced that Cahall would be resigning effective immediately, and clearing out his office. Former Assistant Principal Gregory Bargeman will serve as Interim Principal until the position is filled permanently.
At school, Wilson students, staff, and faculty expressed a mixed bag of opinions about Cahall’s departure. Some were sad, some indifferent, and some hopeful for the future.
“My opinion is that it’s not a big effect on me because I didn’t know Cahall that well, but I know he had a great effect on the student body himself because he had a great connection with a lot of people,” said sophomore Kimberly Manalang. “I thought that they would have an assembly or a goodbye party for him, because he has been at Wilson for so long.”
Others seemed to share her sentiment. Junior Will Wheat said, “It’s different, you know? Cahall, he was the kind of principal that was best friends with most of the students here at Wilson, and without him it just feels like a piece of Wilson is gone.”
When The Washington City Paper reported the DCPS decision not to renew Cahall’s contract on December 12, students and alumni made several efforts to organize protests at the DCPS headquarters, but no plan ever came to fruition.
Speaking on this lack of action, junior Kellik Dawson said, “A lot of people I’m looking at that were really heartfelt about him, are like laughing with their friends and eating lunch. I think people thought they were gonna miss him just because they think we’re supposed to care a lot about our principal, but a lot of people are going about their regular day, and don’t seem to care at all.”
Not everyone was indifferent or sad about Cahall’s departure. Multiple students made negative comments about Cahall to this reporter, citing complaints from teachers about his leadership. But none of those students were willing to speak on record, so we have refrained from including their statements in this article because as a rule The Beacon does not publish anonymous quotes of a malicious nature.
On the teacher and faculty side, there seemed to be an effort to get back to the daily routine, even without the former school leader of six years.
Dean Andrew Barnes said, “I really haven’t heard that much feedback from students or anything like that, I just think the students are excited to be back in school because of the break. I hope everything will get back to speed soon.”
One teacher did notice a slight difference in the usual procedure of the morning. English teacher Belle Belew commented, “The only thing I noticed was that when I came in this morning he wasn’t there, you know, so that was sort of weird. In fact there was nobody there to say welcome back.”
In an email address to community members on the school’s Listserv last night, Bargeman wrote, “Over the next six months, I will continue to promote the mission and vision of Wilson High School. I look forward to collaborating with Wilson High students, parents, teachers, staff and community to further this important work.”
Bargeman also encouraged parents to contact him, saying, “We welcome and value your active participation and input in your child’s education. We urge you to be proactive in communicating with our team of dedicated teachers and staff.”
Perhaps in the future students and staff will see Bargeman’s smiling face ready to greet all who enter in the mornings.
PHOTO BY ELLIE LE BLANC