On May 17, the Clarke County School District Board of Education named Derrick Maxwell as the new principal of Cedar Shoals High School.
The move came shortly after current principal, Mrs. DeAnne Varitek announced her resignation on March 5, effective at the end of the school year.
The school and students are familiar with Maxwell, who served as principal at Whit Davis from 2012 to 2015. He later was named interim principal at Cedar after the abrupt removal of Dr. Tony Price as principal following the now resolved and audited sexual assault case at Cedar Shoals in 2016.
Though he applied for the permanent job that same year, Maxwell was not hired. He then left CCSD to become principal of Commerce Middle School.
Now, after two years, he is returning to Cedar Shoals.
“It’s very exciting. I never put my Cedar Shoals shirts away, so it’s just a matter of putting them right back on,” said Maxwell.
The announcement is drawing excitement among students, teachers, and parents, all eager to see a familiar face running the school.
“He was very interactive with all the students and was involved [with our lives] further than just being our principal,” said Catherine Hennessey, a rising senior. “What I’m hoping to see most is honesty between administration and students. When he was our interim principal, he treated us with respect, so he got treated with respect, and that’d be awesome if it were to happen again.”
Lily Gehner is a freshman who went to Whit Davis while Mr. Maxwell was principal there. She remembers how much she enjoyed his leadership, even when she was so young.
“He always made an effort to make students laugh, he showed great leadership, participated in student activities, and never had a bad day,” said Gehner. “I think he will be a really great principal because the students who had him in elementary school already know him and recognize his good traits.”
Parents and teachers share similar high hopes for the coming years.
“When he came to Cedar in the past he immediately started working on relationships with students. From the very first day he started having meetings with students, parents and teachers, and just started building trust and a relationship. I think that really sets him apart,” said Janet Frick, a mother of two CCSD students.
“Cedar has taken some big steps and we are headed in the right direction, and I think Mr. Maxwell is going to take that momentum we’ve built and continue to make our school a better place,” said Mr. Matthew Baker, science department.
“I’d like to have some sort of kickoff event with students and the community to get things going and solidify our efforts and bring the East Side community back together. Athens is a unique community and it takes that unique perspective to understand how things work,” Maxwell said.