Every morning, he is there waving cars along and talking to the students. Chris Blice has been the backbone of Northwood for five years. Recently he was offered a job at Chatham County Office and decided to seize the opportunity.
“I have mixed feelings,” Blice said. “I am excited about the opportunity but I am really sad about leaving Northwood.”
Justin Bartholomew, formal principal of Margaret Pollard Middle School moved into the position as principal Oct. 21.
Blice’s responsibilities vary from overseeing transportation to maintenance. He is currently working on future schools for Chatham County.
“I am going to a lot of meetings working on a strategic plan for the new schools that we will be building in the next 30 years,” Blice said.
In recent years, Northwood has made improvements. The Washington Post named Northwood as one of “America’s Most Challenging High Schools of 2013.” U.S News and Report also identified Northwood as one of “2013 Best High Schools.”
“I think the hardest thing for me is going to be missing being at the school every day with young people and teachers, it really is going to be hard,” Blice said. “I loved everyday of being the principal and I will love [it] until I hand the key to Dr. B and say ‘It is yours’ and walk out the door. That is going to be the hardest thing,” Blice said, choking up while discussing his move.
Some teachers and students thrived on his positive attitude and determination to make Northwood the place that it is.
“I think that Blice turned the school around and he should not leave. He picks up trash which I have never seen anyone do except if they are getting paid for it. It is showing good character,” senior Gabe Duff said.
Although most will miss his presence, some are optimistic that the new principal will pick up where Blice left of.
“[Bartholomew] was well accomplished and knew what he was doing but it just gives a chance for Dr. B to come in and take the role [as principal],” sophomore Arlo Estill said.
The students are not the only ones affected by the change. Teachers have grown accustomed to Blice and many are sad about his departure.
“I am really sad about it. He has been
here for a long time; I have gotten pretty close with him,” history teacher Skip Thibault said. “He has really brought us a long way, he has done a lot of great things for the school. I think we will probably keep going in the right direction but I am going to miss him a lot.”
Although people are disappointed Blice is moving on, many are supportive in his decision of taking the new job.
“I am really happy that he has a move in his career that he is pleased with but I am very sad to see him go,” Spanish teacher Bethanie Adams said. “I really enjoyed having him as my principal.”
Bartholomew is excited and confident about his transition to Northwood.
“The nice thing is that [Blice] and I worked together for the last five and a half years and we are still going to work together. I think that part of my success is my ability to communicate with him,” Bartholomew said. “It is a relationship you always want to continue.”
Bartholomew has been in high school environments for many years. He began at Pentucket High School in Massachusetts. After moving south, he taught biology at Chapel Hill High School, then became the assistant princiapl there. He later went on to be the principal at Horton Middle School, Moncure and finally Pollard Middle School.
“The moment I found out, I was sitting in my office and Dr. Jordan came in. He said he wanted to speak to me,” Bartholomew said. “He told me about Mr. Blice moving on up to Central Office and asked how would I feel about going up to Northwood.”
He remembers every detail about that Monday. The opportunity to return to a high school was right in front of him.
“As a school continues to grow, to move on, is a tough thing to do. But you know that is what life is,” Bartholomew said. “You go through certain periods in your life where you just have to say ‘Okay, it is my time. I have got to move on to the next part of my life.’”
Filling the space that Blice left behind is going to be challenging.
“He is taller than I am, so naturally he is going to have bigger feet!” Bartholomew said. “Mr. Blice did a fabulous job. In the five and a half years he has been there, he has done amazing work.”
As the year is inching past, Northwood is going to experience changes that will keep the school progressing. Nothing was put into action until Pollard found a replacement for Bartholomew.
“It has been an honor,” Blice said. “It is been a great experience and I would not trade it for anything.”
– By Skler Waugh
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