Things were a little hectic at Sacred Heart School on Wednesday. It was the first day of school for the K-12 building, as well as an early release day for the annual pool party at Liberty Pool, so the bell schedule was different than usual. To make sure everyone got to the right classroom, Principal Gary Manning made the rounds during the first passing period.
“I just want to make sure everyone gets to the right place,” Manning said as he climbed the stairs. “We’ve got some new students this year, and new teachers, and it’s the first day of school, so I want to see if anyone needs help.”
It was the first day of school at SHS for five new teachers and several new students, but it was also the first day at SHS for Manning, who started in his role as principal July 1, after long-time principal Mark Register announced in December 2013 he would be leaving at the end of the school year.
“The transition has gone well. Dr. Register helped me, Dr. (Jim) Davis, Father Mark (Miller), they helped me transition to it,” Manning said while sitting with the Democrat in the cafeteria. “I’ve had some growing pains, some ups and downs, kind of learning as I go sometimes, but that’s fine, that’s OK.”
While walking the halls during the first passing period, Manning spoke with a new teacher, making sure she knew all the times for the adjusted bell schedule, and helped a young student find the nearest bathroom. Even though he’s a new face at Sacred Heart, he seems to know his way around after working with returning staff members.
“That’s been exciting, returning faculty has helped not only myself but our five new faculty members,” he said. “They’ve embraced us and helped us get used to the Sacred Heart School community. They’re been wonderful. I’ve asked many questions.”
The new administrator isn’t the only member of the Manning family who will be at SHS this year — his three kids will be attending the school too.
“That’s a change for us, they’ve never been in the same building I’ve been an administrator at. We’ve talked about different things about the expectations. They’ve been good students, but the expectation at school is I’m the principal. We’ve talked about that role difference. I think it will go well, but time will only tell,” Manning joked.
Manning now has one day of school at SHS under his belt, and other than getting to know students and faculty, he has only one goal at the moment: continuing tradition.
“One goal is continuing the Sacred Heart tradition that they’ve built here. just being that school that has those positive role models, having that Christian faith,” he said. “Not only with our students but with our faculty, parents, our school community, just continuing that tradition that’s been going on here for over 50 years.”
Part of that tradition is Friday’s 2 p.m. pep assembly to help kick off the new school year and fall sports season. The Spirit Squad has planned “Glo Sacred Heart,” complete with glow sticks, black lights, a local DJ, and they will be involving their new principal in a fun game.
“We have a pep assembly Friday for K-12 to kick off the sports seasons. I hear they have something special for me, so we’ll see how that goes. Students like seeing faculty involved,” Manning said. “That’s exciting, and one thing I like about that is it’s K-12. It’ll be new for me too because I haven’t been here for one, and we’ll see how they get me involved.”