It’s a mess. Doors sit half open revealing the remains of a classroom used throughout the year, empty now except for papers and remnants of books and bobbles. Classroom furniture, chairs, white boards and storage cabinets are piled in the walkways, signs reading “Going to DV” plastered on this and that. It’s moving day at Al Kennedy High School.
At the end of the long walk that spiders off into classrooms, passed the piles of furniture and signs directing faculty to take or leave boxes in the office. Inside, files stand stacked ready to go and someone calls out for Halie.
She’s in the back space of the office behind a desk sorting through papers. She sits in the only chair in the room.
Halie Ketcher is the new interim principal at Kennedy, appointed after former principal Mike Ingman was selected to take Iton Udosenata’s spot as Cottage Grove High School Principal earlier this year. The changes will take effect for students at the start of the school year in September but for Halie, she’s already rolled up her sleeves and gotten to work. The entire flesh and bone of Kennedy has to be moved from its home near Taylor Ave. out to Delight Valley in the shadow of the Saginaw exit of I-5.
The move means a permanent home for Kennedy, which has been housed in portable buildings next to the Daughterty community pool. Students will be sharing the space with Head Start but for once, Kennedy kids will have a gymnasium and a place to call their own in their quest to obtain a high school education.
“It would have been a lot for the kids to get a new school and a new administrator,” Ketcher says, referring to the school district’s decision to promote from within.
South Lane School District learned of Udosenata’s resignation in late spring and his intention of returning to North Eugene. At the time, the district said three in-house candidates were interested in the position, qualified and that hiring from within would prevent the district from spending weeks on a smaller pool of applicants due to the high demand of principals around the state. Ketcher has been in an employee of South Lane for three years and up until her appointment as principal, served as the dean of students and head of the GED program at Kennedy. “Some of the kids, when they heard about Mike leaving, they said they hoped I got the job,” she said. “So we already have a relationship because I was the dean of students.” The domino effect ended with Halie.
While she was appointed after Ingman and Ingman after Udosenata announced his departure, the school district will now begin the hiring process for a new administrator to take Ketcher’s former position as dean of students and GED program head rather than continue to fill spots with existing South Lane personnel. “There’s some challenges,” Ketcher says of her new role. “We’re moving to a new building.” New building complete with the gym and gardens aside, the district’s reshuffling of top administrators may not be completely ‘interim.’
According to South Lane, Ingman will serve as interim principal of Cottage Grove High School but should the district and Ingman agree that it’s a good fit, he will assume that position permanently. “It’s the same for me,” Ketcher said. “As interim, I have the ability to go back to my position if this doesn’t work but it’s been my dream to run my own alternative program so I don’t see that happening.”