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Emphasis on the New at Centreville High

'Man from the 'Hood' Campbell is happy to be home.

Mike Campbell took the reins as Centreville High's principal on July 6 and hit the ground running. He spent the summer scheduling classes, filling teacher vacancies and seeing which classes needed extra sections.

And right from the start, he said, "It feels right; it really feels like home."

That's because Campbell was a subschool principal at Centreville from 1997-2000. He then left to become assistant principal and, for the past two years, principal at Westfield. But since he lives in Little Rocky Run and both his sons will attend Centreville — his oldest is a freshman this year — he asked to return to that school, and his request was granted.

"WORKING IN your community and having your kids go to the same school you're at is really nice," he said. "And I only live about half a mile away."

From July to September, Campbell was busy reacquainting himself with the school and staff, as well as planning for the new school year. He met booster club and PTA members; and eventually, things he remembered about Centreville started to come back to him.

It helped that he already knew the building and, he said, "Some teachers, department chairs, coaches and secretaries are still here from before, and that's helping me know the whole staff."

Centreville began the year with close to 2,280 students — which, as far as Campbell was concerned — was wonderful. "It's about 1,000 less than Westfield," he said. "It's like one less school." However, he added, "I'd love to [have enough students for an enrollment of] 2,300. I never thought I'd hear myself say that. But that way, we could pick up additional staffing."

He hired about 25 new teachers in a variety of subjects and has a total staff of about 250, including custodians, secretaries and four assistant principals. The new instructors came from both within and outside the Fairfax County school system.

"For example, I've made some great hires from Florida and from Fauquier County," said Campbell. "Both are English teachers. The one from Florida was named First-Year Teacher of the Year in Southern Florida. The one from Fauquier High School received a presidential citation for being the Teacher of the Year in arts and humanities."

Centreville also has some other new changes this year. It's e-mail program called "Keep in Touch" is a new way of communicating last-minute events and information to parents.

And via the new "Touching Bases" program, on Nov. 10, parents will meet with teachers regarding their children's first-quarter progress.

Centreville's also developed a new leadership group called Student Congress. It meets once a month to disseminate information from the principal and from other clubs and programs to the rest of the school.

"IT'S IN addition to SCA," said Campbell. "Representatives from each fourth-period class will bring me topics of interest from the students. These will be new ideas and concepts they'd like to see [implemented], as well as their concerns, and I'll share them with the other students."

The school is also adding an Alcohol and Drug Services coordinator to take substance-abuse referrals [of students needing help with this problem] from parents, students and teachers. Centreville also plans to hold substance-abuse awareness programs for the community.

The school will focus on its appearance, as well. "Centreville High is the third-newest high school in the county — but we're 17 years old," said Campbell. "So we're upgrading our building and grounds to make them look better. And Merrifield Gardens is helping us do that."

And along with a new principal comes a new motto: "We are C'ville ... 'C' Our Pride." Said Campbell: "There's a lot of pride in this school and community. Last year, they had shirts saying, 'We are C'ville.' This year, besides that, on the back are the words, 'C' Our Pride.'"

All in all, he said, "I'm excited about the new school year and have high expectations to involve the school, community and faculty in the decision-making. I have a vested interest in Centreville. I live in this community and have children attending the school. I want the best for this school and community."