MERHS Chooses New Leader While Saying Goodbye to Former Principal


For any situation, MERHS has had a reliable and kind leader to visit for advice: Principal Patricia Puglisi. After being gifted with her presence for 10 years, we are all beyond sad to see her go and tackle the position of principal at Lynnfield High School. Her upcoming departure from our community this coming June will be the bittersweet end of an era.

Throughout her time with us, Principal Puglisi showed a continuous effort to engage with our student body by attending sports games, musical performances, art shows, and more.

Her generous actions united our school community. 

As our teams travel to compete against Lynnfield next year, she may be wearing yellow and blue, but she has proven over and over that inwardly she will always support the Hornets.

Over the past two months, since Mrs. Puglisi’s announcement on February 1, the school community has been in search of a new principal.

On March 23, three finalists were selected, and throughout the week of March 28, each candidate held interview sessions with students, teachers, and community members. 

The candidates were Julie Sgroi, Josh Blagg and our current dean of students, Dan Richards.

Through my own questions and those of others attending these sessions, I have created some knowledge as to what the students want in our next principal.

Seemingly the most important quality is approachability.

Currently, with Mrs. Puglisi, we are able to communicate with email chains, including her lightning-speed responses, but also by simply walking into her office unannounced.

That open-door policy is crucial to us students as we can’t plan when our issues and questions arise, and would like to have our school leader available as a resource whenever needed.

In contrast, many students also hope for an anonymous system in which they can report their issues.  That could be initiated through a mailbox system outside the office or through an online, continuously accessible form.

This concern was especially advocated in response to the need for better gender awareness.  All three candidates urged the importance of a welcoming school environment and agreed to take student input into true consideration with all their actions.

For the junior class, many students wished to hear about the senior privileges that they would maintain and or change for their final year.

Especially since many felt a strict change as the school returned to normal pre-pandemic regulations, current juniors hope that they are not the cut-off for senior privileges.

Seemingly the most important privileges are those of being allowed to have a study hall and coming in late or leaving early if the first or last block is a study hall; however, the current juniors would be more than happy to discuss additional ideas.

The idea of being allowed to leave, especially when not having a class last block, is a topic all students were engaged with during the sessions.  Many advocated for the idea of an open campus, as they do not see a reason to stay on school grounds if they do not have a class or teacher present and permission from parents to leave.

This policy, however, is very difficult to implement due to safety policies that coincide with the next topic; school safety.

Though nobody has mentioned that they feel unsafe currently, it was crucial for students to hear the candidates' opinions on this horrid concern and threat haunting our nation.

Each candidate responded with sincerity and provided solutions and practices such as increasing A.L.I.C.E. drills and improving mental health care.

All candidates showed impressive and fitting experience, as well as an eagerness to work with our community.  They emphasized that they would spend their first year simply getting to know Manchester-Essex from the principal perspective and from there, they will decide to make changes to the district accordingly.

Everybody anxiously waited for the decision in the weeks following the interviews, until the announcement, which revealed Julie Sgroi as our next principal, was released on April 7.

After attending her student interview, and reading her resume, which can be found on the MERHS website, here are some of my thoughts:

Out of the gate, she was fun and engaging with students.  She is clearly someone who enjoys working with kids and spending time with them.  Throughout the interview, she was very lively and threw in some laughable jokes making the session a delight. 

This was a great contrast to the other two candidates who were both more reserved and quieter.  Though neither quality is better than the other, I think her communicativeness allowed her to better connect with the students.

There was never a time of silence, and seemingly everybody had a question for her, whether it involved academics, or our school lunches.

Since 2020, Ms. Sgroi has been the assistant principal at Danvers High School.  From this experience, many believe she will be a strong leader and that though she is fun and engaging, she will know when the matter is serious.

Before that, she was a department head and Spanish language teacher at Lynnfield High School. Especially for our foreign language department, which experienced cuts in the elementary level due to budget limitations, having someone that values their teachings and goals is important for the further development and success of the program.

Overall, I believe Ms. Sgroi has some great skills that will transfer over to the principal position, and many others believe so too.

Her ideas were valued, and she connected well with the students, proving her rightful position as the chosen candidate.

As the principal is such a crucial element of the school community, I’m excited to work with and find out more about Ms. Sgroi.

While we say our goodbyes to Mrs. Puglisi, we students can only hope the district’s choice will be consistently on our side and truly engaged with the affinity and advancement of the student body.

patricia puglisi, lynnfield high school, julie sgroi, goodbye, josh blagg, danvers high school, school leader, dan richards, teacher, dean of students, assistant principal