PENDLETON - New principals were chosen Monday for Pendleton High School and Sunridge Middle School.

Tom Lovell will succeed retiring principal Jim Gadberry at Pendleton High. Susan DeMarsh will replace retiring Dennis O'Hara as principal of Sunridge next year.

Both appointments were approved unanimously Monday by the Pendleton School Board, with one member absent.

Both choices were based on the recommendations of separate eight-member committees comprised of school building staff, administrators and board members.

"I'm thrilled for them," Superintendent Jim Keene said. "It's fun to see their excitement as they take on a new level of responsibilities."

Lovell is assistant principal at PHS and this year is also serving as athletic and activities director, filling the void left when Jon Peterson was promoted to principal of Lincoln and West Hills elementary schools. Lovell, who was selected from a field of seven applicants, has been with the school district since 1991.

He said he was excited about all the possibilities and wanted to make sure he maintained the good things going on in the district.

Despite funding and staff cuts in the last five years the high school has maintained a comprehensive education, Lovell said.

"We've been able to maintain a lot of good programs where kids are being very successful and want to continue to do that," he said.

DeMarsh is currently serving as assistant principal at Sunridge. Before that, she was principal of Hawthorne Elementary School until its closure in 2002. She has also served as principal of other Pendleton elementary schools, and has been with the district since 1989. She was selected out of a field of 10 applicants.

"I'm absolutely delighted," DeMarsh said following the school board meeting. "I'm really looking forward to the challenge."

Both the high school and the middle school have downsized staff in recent years due to the state funding crisis. However, Keene said the district will fill both Lovell's and DeMarsh's current positions, posting both vacancies in the near future.

Also Monday, the board:

•Accepted eight grants from the Education Foundation of Pendleton, totaling $4,080. The grants will benefit Pendleton High School's FFA program, the Oregon Writing Festival, Living History Day and the coastal ecosystem field trip, Washington Elementary School's art camp and 4-H Wildlife Stewards Project, Lincoln Elementary School's art class and clay creation, and McKay Creek Elementary School's art teaching units.

•Accepted two grants from the Wildhorse Foundation, totaling $8,600, to benefit PHS's Roberta Lavadour Art Project and McKay Elementary's playground project.

•Accepted two grants from the Buck Boosters, totaling $2,200, to benefit batting cage materials at Babe Ruth Park and the equestrian club at the high school.

•Accepted two $50 grants from Wells Fargo Bank Educational Matching Gift Program and Greg Galloway for McKay Elementary's pie social fund-raiser and Sherwood Heights Elementary's classroom art project.

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