JAY — Several students gathered at Spruce Mountain High School before 6 a.m. Monday, Jan. 7, to welcome back their principal.

“Oh my goodness! I’m super. This is so good. Thank you guys, I am so happy,” TJ Plourde said.

One student said everyone was so happy when it was announced Thursday that Plourde would be returning as the school’s principal that some were close to tears.

Monday, Jan. 7 Spruce Mountain High School principal TJ Plourde was greeted with streamers, balloons, a cake and plenty of hugs. Several students were at the school before 6 a.m. to welcome their principal back. Plourde was told Dec. 21 that his position had been eliminated. He is seen cutting the cake. (Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden)

“I was almost bawling too,” Plourde replied.

Another student said, “Suddenly you weren’t my principal anymore. It wasn’t right. You weren’t there to meet me at school.”

Plourde said, “One of the biggest influences in my life was my high school principal. I love you, this community. I don’t know many communities like ours.

“For students to care so much, show so much respect for everyone during this process. How you did it was superb, just amazing.

“You know how much I love you guys. My everything is just to be here with you.”

Parent Beth Kennedy said, “It was amazing the behind the scenes stuff that was going on. There were 19,000 engagements on the Bring Back TJ Facebook page.”

“You don’t know how much this means to me,” Plourde said.

Kennedy networked with faculty and staff to arrange the welcome.

“It takes a community, everyone to pull something like this off,” she said.

Math teacher Kathleen Brush said, “What impressed me is the way both communities pulled together. TJ is the constant male role model students need.

“The students said they wanted to greet Plourde the way he greets us. They didn’t want to shake anyone else’s hand.

“School is supposed to be the second safest place after home. This shifted all that.”

Kennedy said the kids wanted to protest, show their anger but they were encouraged not to.

“Actions speak louder than words. These kids do have a voice,” she said.

Plourde said this has been tough on his own kids.

A sign posted in Plourde’s office to greet his return says, “The influence of a good professional can never be erased.”

“I feel blessed, I really do,” Plourde said.

Plourde was removed as principal on Friday, Dec. 21 just before the Christmas vacation.

On Monday, Dec. 24, Superintendent Todd LeRoy said by email the move was part of a transformation plan that would create one secondary school from the middle and high schools.

LeRoy and two school board members met with Regional School Unit 73 legal counsel on Wednesday, Jan. 2. The next day it was announced Plourde would be returning and other principals would return to the schools they had been at previously.

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