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placeholder September 22, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA
Catholic High Schools Information Guide

Holy Names interim principal
proponent of all-girl school

Harry Purpur

Harry Purpur should be retired. Instead the educator — who has been in Catholic education for nearly 50 years — will be spending the school year as interim principal at Oakland's Holy Names High School.

Purpur will be principal at the high school for one school year. He succeeds Holy Names Sister Margaret Spiller, another interim principal, who served for several months after the departure of Colleen Curran, who had been principal since the start of the 2012 school year. Curran went on family leave and did not return.

It is hoped that Purpur's presence will bring some stability or "groundedness" to the all-girl high school, one of the oldest Catholic schools in the diocese.

Born in North Dakota, Purpur attended local Catholic grade and high schools in Seattle. His background in Catholic education is extensive — he has been a teacher, principal and superintendent of schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle and the Diocese of Orlando. Most recently he had been an interim principal at a number of Catholic schools.

He is a strong proponent of single-sex schools, especially those for girls. "It makes a huge difference he said. He explained that the boys seem to take over in the classrooms, dominate conversations and the like. But with same-sex schools for girls, students have more opportunities to take charge.

"I like the leadership opportunities that become available for the young women," he said.

At Holy Names High he will lead the school community as it faces a number of significant challenges. Among these challenges are how to increase enrollment, which has fallen to 130 students; fundraising; and finding a new "permanent" principal.

Everyone has a part in helping meet these challenges, said Purpur, noting that he has already started job number one — listening.

Purpur had begun meeting with the faculty and staff, and he will meet with all of them, individually. He also plans to meet and talk to every student, but he may have to meet the students in pairs. "I'll have to have lunch with all of them and listen to their thoughts and dreams."

A lot of work is ahead for Purpur and the Holy Names High School community. "It involves a lot of good people. And there are many good people here."

Once his one-year contract is up, Purpur does plan to retire. "One of these days."

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