During lunch Tuesday, Lewiston High School students listen as junior Samantha Kivus, left, talks about how Principal Shawn Chabot is respected and liked by students. From left are Kivus, Kajha Gagnon, Gabrielle Wilson and Mya Letourneau.

LEWISTON — Shawn Chabot was the talk of the cafeteria Tuesday at Lewiston High School.

“I’m so sad right now. He’s my favorite principal,” said junior Mya Letourneau, reacting to news that Chabot will become assistant superintendent of Lewiston Public Schools. He won’t be at the high school this fall.

Other students at her table, Gabrielle Wilson, Kajha Gagnon and Samantha Kivus, agreed, saying Chabot is easy to talk to. He’s visible in the school, greeting students, they said. He’s fair.

“He’s nice to everybody,” Letourneau said. But he also can be intimidating and enforces rules, she said.

“You can just see the power radiating off him,” Kivus said. “He’s a great principal, well-respected by the students.”

She shared an example. One day, there was almost a fight in the cafeteria — until Chabot walked in.

Two students were arguing. It was escalating to the point where the students were about to get physical, Kivus said.

Chabot walked through “and they stopped what they were doing,” she said. “The cafeteria grew silent.”

Chabot pointed to each student and said, “office,” and the students complied.

“He was so chill,” Kivus said.

Chabot said the way he operates is making a connection with the students.

“Then when I need to be stern, they listen,” he said. On most occasions, he said, he doesn’t have to physically break up any fights.

Students said they’ve heard good things about incoming Principal Jake Langlais and how he’s a people person.

At another table that held blond-haired hockey players, sophomore Alex Robert said Chabot is someone to learn from.

“I also had Mr. Langlais,” he said. “He’s a great guy, too. It’ll work out here.”

Joe Visson said he was shocked to learn Chabot was leaving because he hasn’t been at the school long. Comparing his own freshman year to his junior year, “the student body is closer,” Visson said. “Everything’s better.”

Glenn Atkins, a Jobs for Maine Graduates teacher, was watching hundreds of students at lunch Tuesday. Chabot has improved morale, Atkins said.

“Look around at how the kids are behaving, how the kids react to him,” he said.

Chabot will be missed, Atkins said. 

Thomas Jumper, a high school senior who’s the student representative on the Lewiston School Committee, agreed.

The School Committee voted Monday night to approve Chabot as assistant superintendent. All voted in favor — except for one. 

When asked if anyone was opposed, Jumper raised his hand. The room broke out in laughter.

On Tuesday, Jumper explained his vote wasn’t a joke. He was, in fact, opposed. But, Jumper said, he has no doubt Chabot will do a good job as assistant superintendent.

“I wish him the best of luck,” he said.

Jumper said his position on the committee is representing students and the school. His sister, Gabrielle Blais, is a high school science teacher who didn’t want Jumper to support Chabot’s exit.

“Students and teachers are going to miss him more than anything,” Jumper said. “We hate to see him go.”

Chabot’s annual pay will be $109,667, said Superintendent Bill Webster, the same salary he would have received if he remained the Lewiston High School principal.

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