The writing was on the wall during the December meeting, but the Greencastle School Board made it official Wednesday night, promoting former assistant principal Russ Hesler.
Acting Superintendent Dawn Puckett recommended the transfer to the board, with board member Bill Tobin emphatically making the motion for approval. Mike White seconded the move, and it passed unanimously.
Hesler's appointment brought applause from the board and audience alike.
"There is no one more committed to the success of Greencastle students than Russ Hesler," Puckett said after the meeting. "We're very excited to get to honor Russ's commitment to this community and this school by making him the full-time principal."
The promotion opens the assistant principal's seat at the high school. While a search for a permanent replacement begins Thursday, in the interim, former Greencastle staff member and Cascade High School principal Dorothy Crawley is assisting Hesler.
During the December meeting at which Hesler was named interim principal, some community members questioned the board about going ahead and naming Hesler principal.
The board seemed to be leaning in that direction, but did not make a move at the time. White said the board had plenty on its plate between Jennifer Shepherd's resignation as GHS principal, Superintendent Lori Richmond's leave of absence and naming their interim replacements.
"I think (naming Hesler as principal) was originally the plan," White said. "Things happened very quickly so we kind of had to slow down and just take one thing at a time. I think last month's meeting was plenty hectic enough without trying to do that too.
"We just thought we'd give it a month, let things settle into place."
White cited Hesler's loyalty to the corporation as one of the major factors in naming him principal.
"Russ is one of the most stable people we have in the corporation, and that's really what we need right now," White said. "I think his abilities are there and I think the stability issue is there and clearly a major factor."
The move was also in response to public sentiment.
"I've heard from so many people, and I think the other board members have heard from so many people also, that Hesler needs to be principal," White said. "That's our job, to listen to people and make informed decisions."
Much as he was last month at the outpouring of support, Hesler was honored by the appointment.
"It's a little scary to hear it officially," the beaming new principal said.
"This place is a great place to be and a great place to raise a family," Hesler added. "Greencastle's been good for me for 35 years, and I'm very humbled and honored to be named the principal of Greencastle High School. Wow."
Hesler spoke of the assistance he's had from various sources including the students, community and former staff members who have either returned to help or at least offered their services.
"It's been a calming force at the school, and kids are pitching in. I've had a lot of help," Hesler said. "People are pulling together. Lots of positive things are happening at the high school."
Both Hesler and Puckett spoke highly of Crawley's willingness to come out of retirement to lend a hand and of the know-how she brings to the office.
"Having her back in the building brings years of experience, wisdom and great respect," Puckett said. "We are very grateful for her willingness to come in and help Russ get everything going the way it needs to go."
The principal said it's been a good first week back and a hectic time of year. He is looking forward to the next several months.
"It's a fun time of year. It'll be May before we know it," Hesler said.