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EXIT ON A HIGH NOTE
SoVaNow.com / December 18, 2014The mission is complete.
For Albert Randolph, a great sense of accomplishment is savored, along with the bittersweet feeling of starting a new chapter in life. After 37 years in education, Randolph, longtime principal of Halifax County High School, retires this week.
At the beginning of his career, Randolph taught various courses, including health/PE, life science, general business, and math. But teaching classes wasn’t enough for him.
“It was my desire to help young people at the highest level possible,” said Randolph, “so I looked into an avenue to have a greater impact on students, so I went into administration.”
In all the years of his principalships, Randolph learned a valuable life lesson, applicable to any situation: “You must have a lot of patience, and … the ability to think through things before you actually say them.” He continued, “In my experience here I know without a doubt that people are observing every move I make in this building, from getting out of my car to the time I walk in the door and when I leave campus.”
Having people scrutinize every movement and comment could have others on pins and needles, but Randolph feels that it has motivated him to build on the positive.
Randolph believes that once he is gone, the school will change in only good ways. He wants the future administration to build relationships and develop strong bonds like he has over the years.
“Be a team player, always listen to the faculty, and listen to the students,” said Randolph. “They can have good ideas.”
He also wants his successors to remember the importance of student accomplishment: “Demand students achieve; demand that students work in the classroom. Ultimately, an education is what’s needed to be successful.”
Randolph has taken great pride in the student body’s laurels during this, his last semester.
“The fall sports teams, athletic and academic, have done extremely well,” said Randolph. The volleyball team has been in the semi-quarter finals of the region, the football team has been to the playoffs, the golf team won Region 16, and the theater was district champion.
For Randolph, these feats are reasons for school spirit.
HCHS is fully accredited by the state of Virginia and has been for the past 15 years. “Our students have earned many certifications and many will earn the associate degree,” said Randolph. “ I feel real honored. We have students to go off to every major college in Virginia and along the East Coast.”
Along with other accomplishments, Randolph has also been able to be a part of important moments for his staff, including their retirements and weddings. One of his most memorable milestones: “The office staff honored me with a surprise party for my 50th birthday,” said Randolph.
Before arriving in Halifax in 2000, Randolph was principal at three other schools, but most of his career has been spent at HCHS.
The most important day on the job is the first day, he said, and for Randolph it was a day to initiate connections.
Ironically, “When I came to Halifax, I indicated to the superintendent that I only planned to stay three to five years,” he recalled. Curiosity consumed the school, and the new principal was the center of attention: “I remember coming to Halifax in that first week and everybody wanted to know who this person was.”
In spite of the initial pressures, Randolph forged bonds, and he found himself at HCHS for the long-term.
In all his years in the education field, Randolph is honored to have worked with many people, but he feels that the faculty, staff, and students at Halifax are some of the best: “When I retire, I will take the love of the faculty and student body with me,” said Randolph.
“The students have their differences, but when it’s all said and done, they support one another.”
“The only thing I regret is that I didn’t spend enough quality time with my family,” said Randolph.
Despite this, he is grateful that his offspring have done well in life: “I am very proud of my children.”
Once he retires, Randolph said he plans to catch up on the family time missed, travel, garden, and play cards, chess and golf. “I encourage people to have an outlet. Stay focused and ultimately the mission you carry in life is the one that’s going to make a difference.”
“Mission complete,” he mused.
Staff Intern Alexus Smith, of South Boston, is a senior at Halifax County High School.
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