Keith Rangel has experienced his fair share of back-to-school first days at Ripon High.
Yet the one on Thursday – his 19th, to be exact – was special.
It was Rangel’s first as principal at his alma mater.
“I’m honored and privileged (to be principal at RHS),” he said. “This is my chance to give back to the community.”
Rangel was the vice principal at the school for the past six years under Lance Morrow, who is now the principal at Buhach Colony High in Atwater.
“Lance was a great mentor and a great boss – we’ll miss him,” he said of Morrow, who was the top administrator at RHS for the past eight years.
Rangel never imagined that he’d be in his current position during his days at RHS. In fact, he’s still sporting the same big smile taken from the time he first received word of his new job.
“The role is different but the (long) hours will be the same,” said Rangel, who refers to himself as more of an educational leader.
He’s especially thankful for his wife Jessie, who is an eighth-grade teacher at nearby Ripon Elementary School. “Without her, I wouldn’t be able to do this job,” said the new principal.
Rangel attended Modesto Junior College and the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. He began work at Ripon Unified about 16 years ago, handling P.E., Health and Special Education at RHS.
In addition, he coached football, track and wrestling.
Rangel was with Glen White and Jorge Velasco, both wrestling coaches at RHS, the day after he was picked to succeed Morrow as principal. They had a planned trip for the great outdoors that included fishing in Alaska.
He was showered with plenty of congratulations from well-wishers on his new job upon his return to home about a week later.
Rangel is joined by 11 new teachers to go with the familiar faces.
Ramirez, who was the school psychologist for the past three years, was announced as VP at last month’s school board meeting.
Of those who were at RHS during his days as a student, Rangel listed Cam Burton (English), Jill McPherson (Spanish) and Paul Calkins (Social Studies) as the remaining few.
It took him years before he was comfortable referring to them on a first-name basis. “It’s a sign of respect (on addressing teachers by ‘Mr.” or ‘Mrs.’),” said Rangel.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.