Mike Dufrene

SUNRISE SUMMIT — After a year at the Hampshire High helm, principal Mike Dufrene is stepping down from the position.

Dufrene took on the role as principal last July, facing what was sure to be an uncertain rollercoaster of a year. Now, after that rollercoaster of a year has come to a close, he’s resigning and moving to North Carolina to be closer to his family.

“This decision is purely based on family, period,” Dufrene explained. “There’s nothing between the lines here.”

Dufrene sang the praises of the central office staff and school board, calling them “nothing but a great support system.”

“I’ve never been told no,” he pointed out. “It’s been refreshing to work with a superintendent and a board office that puts kids first.”

Superintendent Jeff Pancione said that he felt the school benefited from Dufrene’s experience, and for the year he was principal, he offered something the school desperately needed: stability.

“He brought a clear direction for both students and staff,” Pancione said. “I think he had a very successful year in unrealistic, unprecedented times.”

Dufrene, who moved with his wife Holly (currently a teacher in Winchester) to Hampshire County after accepting the job as HHS principal, are now looking south to a new chapter of their lives in North Carolina. He said he doesn’t have a job lined up, nor has he been applying for a new job in the Tar Heel State.

Pancione further commended Dufrene for his “students first” mantra, which Dufrene held to all the way through the year. The exiting principal didn’t reveal news about his departure until after graduation.

“Even at the end there, he didn’t want to draw attention to himself. It was students first,” Pancione said.

As Dufrene gears up to head to his new home down south, he expressed his hopes for Hampshire, both as a high school and as a county.

“Everything is fixable,” he said. “Learn from the past and forget the past, and be willing to move forward.”

Dufrene revealed the news of his departure in his latest edition of “Trojan Times,” calling it a “pleasure” to have been a part of the HHS community for the past year. He and Holly are planning to relocate within the month to their new home.

“We have accomplished many positive things this year together, even during a worldwide pandemic,” he said. “I think Hampshire is a special place, but the bottom line is family. Period.”

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