By Lexie Kauffman ’22
Michael Thornton has been a principal for twenty-three years. Since Spring of 2008, he has faithfully served the community of Conestoga Valley as the Conestoga Valley High School principal.
For over a decade, Thornton has followed the ups and downs that come with running a high school. Under Thornton, the CV community has worked together and tackled many different situations. For example, Thornton was principal when the high school underwent the change to a five-block schedule. He also oversaw the project of renovating the stadium. However, Thornton prides CVHS in connecting with the community.
“I would probably say that our greatest accomplishment is being able to work together as a team to continue the quality type of organization we are. We’re working with all of the different employee groups and the community,” Thornton commented. “The accomplishment is based in working together with the community, building their trust, for them to have trust in me and the staff, and then be able to work together with all of the employee groups in a team effort that continues that string of success.”
Sadly, some of the challenges that Thornton and the community faced were unexpected and tragic. From losing a beloved colleague, Assistant Principal Perry Pritchard, 43, in August of 2015, to recovering from an accidental fire in December of 2016, Thornton has had his challenges.
“The hardest challenge was probably, certainly, losing Perry Pritchard,” Thornton explained. “That would have to rank up at the most difficult, and without the team approach, you wouldn’t be able to recover from something like that. It was in conjunction with his family and the great staff we have that we were able to honor him and remember him and hold onto the things that he taught us; that’s certainly number one. I would also say responding to the fire was a significant challenge, but we did so as a team despite all the distractions that the fire caused.”
Thornton also commented on challenges of implementing new safety measures.
“We’ve also had to, like all schools, respond to the violent incidents that have happened in other schools,” he said. “Even though they capture the news, they’re relatively rare occurrences, but we’ve really had to focus on safety. So being able to introduce RVI, Response to Violent Intruder, and talk about it in mature ways has been a challenge, but our students have always done a great job of never joking about things like that.”
After twelve years, Thornton has learned from his time at CVHS, “It is about the people and honing your skills and trying to bring out the best in people.”
Although Thornton may be closing a chapter at CVHS, he is starting a new one.
“I am looking forward to something different,” Thornton remarked. “I’m not done working. I’d like to take the things I’ve learned as a principal and apply them in other useful ways to make a difference.”