The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

Reece Matula
Photo Courtesy of Reece Matula

FCHS Admin on Being a “Think Tank” and More

What do students really know about the school’s administration? For example, did you know that they have to approve practically everything that happens within the walls of the school?

The Administration Department at Fluvanna County High School includes Principal Margo Bruce and three assistant principals (also known as AP’s): Kyle Gravitt, Stacey Holland, and Chad White. These people decide what’s best for the high school and have a hand in all the decisions made for both students and staff.

Bruce has been working at FCHS for over 18 years, first as an assistant principal and for the last four years as the principal. She said she likes to think of herself as a “think tank” because she solves problems all day-long. That title is supported when you examine all that her job entails, from managing the school’s budget, to overseeing staffing issues and student discipline, to deciding when a yearbook theme is appropriate, or whether a senior prank should be approved.

Wih so much to do (and nearly 1,500 students and nearly 200 staff to oversee) principals like Bruce can’t possibly accomplish everything themselves. That is where the assistant principals come in. Fluvanna has three AP’s because of the number of students enrolled (something which is mandated by the state). Each assistant principal oversees one or two classes (for example, one might oversee 10th and 11th grade students). Within those classes they also are in charge of monitoring attendance, discipline, and more. On top of that, the AP’s also split up the advising responsibilities for the different departments.

“I can’t do it all, so this is just something they do to assist me.” Bruce said about her APs.

For example, Gravit deals with overseeing the health, safety, and transportation of the students and the building. White oversees the Special Education department, Bruce’s social media accounts, Instructional Technology Resource Teacher (ITRT) Kristen Davis, and collaborative teaching (when general education and special education teachers work together in a collaborative class). Meanwhile, Holland is in charge of Blue Ridge Virginia Governor’s School, textbook adoption, and Powerschool.

One of the biggest aspects of a school is the budget. Bruce is the person who manages the school’s budget and determines where to allocate funds that year. Sometimes she uses extra money in the budget to hire a new teacher or upgrade the school building. This year, she felt the need to upgrade the school’s security, so she was able to add two school security officer (SSO) positions which are now filled by Von Hill, Jr., and Malcolm Nelson, both of whom can be seen roaming the halls making sure students are where they need to be.

“I think now, in the world that we live in, we can’t say ‘That won’t happen to me’ or ‘That won’t happen here’, because we just don’t know. I’d rather be safe than sorry,” Bruce said in reference to the need for the SSO’s.

One thing that might surprise students is the reason why the school holds so many fire drills. The fact is that the state of Virginia requires all public schools to complete two fire drills within the first 20 days of each school session and then two more drills throughout the school year. So in Fluvanna, Gravitt is in charge of organizing these drills and deciding when they should take place. He’s even the one in charge of pulling the actual alarm when it’s time for the fire drills.

“It’s fun now,” said Gravit when asked about initiating the drills, “but the first couple of times it’s [nerve-wracking]. I want to make sure I get [the lever] put back in place,” he said. He also emphasized that students should never pull the alarms themselves. “That’s a felony,” he said.

An administrator’s job doesn’t end when the bell rings at 3:29 p.m. Have you ever noticed at sporting events there is at least one of the four administrative personnel present? Possibly more than one? That is because they take turns observing the audiences at the games. They watch for potential fights between students or parents, as well as provide a sense of security and authority to the audience.

“We do prepare for a game that has a bigger crowd, especially on the visitors side. We coordinate with [the sheriff’s department] to have more law enforcement present, plus our SSO’s, and then, of course, we try to have all our admin if we need to,” said Bruce.

Administrators’ roles can also take surprising turns. For example, senior pranks are a common tradition in high schools across the United States. Fluvanna has had a few memorable ones, from having a water slide next to the greenhouse several years ago, to last year’s fake “wedding” between 2023’s “Class Mom and Dad” Bethany Cheripka and Mathew Crothers.

Many FCHS students believe that these pranks have to be approved by Bruce, but that is actually untrue. In reality, Bruce has never approved of a senior prank for liability reasons.

“I would never place myself in that position,” she said, explaining that approval of a senior prank puts her in a dangerous spot, administratively. If something were to go wrong, her approval of that prank would leave her open to negative press. “There are some things you just can’t approve,” Bruce said.

But although Bruce never personally authorizes any pranks, senior classes still make sure they happen every year. In 2019, Bruce’s first year as principal, the senior class decided to make a water slide on the grounds. Bruce found out about the proposed prank, and was able to prank the senior class back by alerting the sheriff’s department to the event. She made it seem like the seniors wouldn’t be able to graduate because of their stunt, but the whole thing was a big joke.

“I pranked them versus them pranking me… scared the crap out of them,” Bruce said, laughing.

Despite all the pressure and tough decisions to be made, Bruce said she “loves”her job, including interacting with the students and teachers. She said she cares about whether she has made “a difference in the teachers’ lives,” and feels the same about her students.

One example of her care for all her students is that she hates to see balloons inside the school, noting that there are some students who have anxiety, and that hearing the popping of the balloons could “really throw their day off.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Fluco Beat Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *