Students piled into the foyer of Andover High School very upset with the fact that they were to be given another gold slip, their ticket to detention. They showed up for school only to find the senior parking lot full of voters’ cars. These students had to somehow accommodate a ride or find somewhere to park their cars. When they finally got into the building, they had to wait in line for a slip that indicated their time sentenced after school. The tension in the room was getting more and more noticeable and the students’ faces were getting meaner and meaner. Then all of a sudden, a sense of hope flashed across their faces as the new principal, Mr. Stephen D. Murray, walked down the stairs with that morning glow he always has that speaks, “I am here for you.” The foyer was flooded with the cries of students:

“Mr. Murray, Mr. Murray.”

“We didn’t know it was voters’ day!”

“This isn’t fair; they took our spots!”

Principal Murray (Courtesy Photo)
Principal Murray (Courtesy Photo)

The students yelled out at him with many different words; it was flabbergasting that he could understand their complaints. Without hesitation, he turned right around and skipped steps up the stairs faster than a freshman late to class in their first week of school. His voice immediately rang throughout the school and through the hearts of all the students as he announced, “Teachers, please allow students to come to class without a pass until 7:50. Again, please hold attendance until 7:50. Thank you.”

As you can see, Mr. Murray is a very compassionate and understanding person. A student from AHS, senior Danielle McNally recalled this event and said, “It’s almost as if he actually stepped into our shoes. He completely understood that we were all late for the same reason and getting detention for something we couldn’t control was unrealistic. I’m pretty sure any other person on our long list of past principals wouldn’t do that. I mean Dr. Lord’s saying was every class, every day, ON TIME. ”

Mr. Murray replaced Dr. Lord this year and unfortunately he will be another principal leaving AHS in the dust. He has found a new opportunity to be a principal at Chelmsford High School, where he grew up and graduated high school.

Many underclassmen were asked how they felt about his departure, and most responses were about the same. They were so excited to finally get a fantastic, stable principal and when they heard the news that he was leaving, all they could think about was adding another person to their list of principals at AHS.  Freshman Jesse Ford said, “He is so kind and enthusiastic that it’s going to be hard to find someone better than him. Whoever is in charge of finding our new principal has one big shoe to fill.”

A sophomore, Jenna Bukowski, on the high school swim team, said, “I hate that he’s going to Chelmsford. They are our biggest rival in MVCs and I don’t want them to have such a great guy as a principal.”

Mr. Murray is so relaxed that you wouldn’t think he has so much going on. His secretary Mrs. Costagliola said, “He is extremely busy. He deals with issues in an out of school at meetings, he has to work with assistant principals and teachers to coordinate programs, and he has to deal with teacher, student, and policy issues and plan things that will make the school’s future brighter. And with all these stressors he is still very easily approachable and is the type of boss that will work with you.” She also said he is exuberant and is truly the most exceptional leader she has worked with in a long time.

Mr. Murray’s assistant principal, Dr. Valverde, said, “He has such high expectations for himself so he has high expectations for others. He is willing to work with others and has a tremendous sense of humor and is incredible at incorporating both while dealing with others. Our meetings are supposed to be serious and to the point, but he makes it so at ease and relaxing. He is truly going to be missed.”

Most students at AHS can agree on Mr. Murray being the best principal they have had in quite some time. Many were asked how they would react if they saw him outside of school and they all responded with something along the lines of: they would feel comfortable seeing him in a different setting because his personality instantly makes them feel at ease.

He tries so hard to be on everyone’s good side. On his first day on the job, he was found roaming the halls looking for students and teachers that he could introduce himself to. I, a senior at AHS, had him as the principal at West Middle and after all these years, Murray still remembered my name. I ran into him later this year and he still addressed me as Nara, with that comforting smile and excited manner. I remember Murray apologizing to me for leaving next year and I replied, throwing my hands in the air, “I’m a senior, I’m gone.” He laughed so hard, repeating my words and stressing how funny that was. I remember thinking how chill he is and how I’ve never laughed so hard with administration. It was a great moment.

It’s sad that Mr. Murray is leaving AHS and going to Chelmsford next year. His kind spirit and energetic personality will be missed, and Andover Public Schools really does have big shoes to fill. I’m going to miss all the many moments we have had over these years and Chelmsford High does not even know how lucky they are.

By Nara Norgil