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New principals are aboard at Grant Watts Elementary, Scappoose High School and Scappoose Middle School.

PMG PHOTO: SCOTT KEITH - Bianca Sapp takes over as principal at Grant Watts Elementary School in Scappoose. With the coming of July, three new school principals have taken the helm in the Scappoose School District.

Grant Watts Elementary

Grant Watts Elementary School welcomes Bianca Sapp, who recently served as a districtwide assistant principal for pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade at Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools in Ojo Caliente, New Mexico.

Before settling into her new role in Scappoose, Sapp has been busy exploring the state.

"We've been running around everywhere, just exploring, enjoying and being fascinated with everything in the state of Oregon," Sapp said, adding, "I'm just now getting myself geared up to dig in and start getting ready to open up our school for this year."

Sapp has been living temporarily in Hillsboro, but she plans on buying a house and living in the Columbia County area.

Sapp is already setting up goals as she approaches the start of the new school year in September.

"My first goal is to maintain the customs and traditions that they have built in that school, for consistency," Sapp said. "I don't want to go in and create a huge upheaval. I want to see where their successes are and celebrate those without coming in and making any major changes right away."

Sapp has been getting familiar with staff at the Scappoose grade school.

"I did have a chance to spend a day with the Grant Watts staff," she said. "I met all of the staff. I was able to do a small staff meeting to introduce myself to them and get to know them a little better, which was absolutely wonderful."

Sapp is excited that kids will be back in classes full-time this September.

"Absolutely. You don't realize how much you miss the students being in the building until they're not," Sapp said.

Scappoose High

Over at Scappoose High School, Jerimy Kelley becomes principal after recently serving as assistant principal at McKay High School in Salem. Kelley will be replacing Jim Jones, who is retiring.

Kelley has roots in the Columbia County area, having grown up in Rainier and teaching there. While teaching in Rainier, Kelley and his wife lived in Scappoose.

Kelley has been getting to know staff at the high school.

"I was able to get into the building every Wednesday, for about two months, meet with staff individually and start to get to know people and build some relationships with staff members," Kelley said. "Those conversations went really well. It's a great place to work and live. People are excited to work there."

Kelley is looking forward to meeting his high schoolers this September.

"Obviously, we get into this business to support kids and families," Kelley said. "Getting kids in the building, being able to interact with them – that's exciting, obviously. I think it's going to be fun. It brings life back into what is stale without children there."

Speaking of goals, Kelley said, "Post-COVID, I know there's some catch up to do. I'm excited about some of the opportunity that we have there to really dig in, invest in kids and continue to help them grow and achieve their goals both during and after high school."

Scappoose Middle

Also on July 1, Adam Strachan took the helm as principal of Scappoose Middle School.

Having served as athletic director and assistant principal at neighboring Scappoose High School, Strachan is getting ready to start his new duties.

Strachan spoke highly of the staff at the middle school.

"It's an incredible staff of people who are willing to help, very team-oriented people who care about kids," Strachan said. "It's been really welcoming. I couldn't be more excited to get going at Scappoose Middle School and get the kids back in the building five days a week, face to face."

Strachan, over the pandemic months, has felt strongly about the need for kids to be in classrooms.

"It's something I personally have been fighting hard for since March of 2020," Strachan said. "I've made the argument that schools are essential and that they have to remain open. They never should have closed. I've been working hard to get those back open — so it's a long time coming, I'll say that."

Strachan continued, "I can't wait to see kids back in the building, face to face."

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