WEIRTON - A new, but familiar, face will be at the helm at Weirton Madonna High School next fall.
On Wednesday, James "Jamie" Lesho was announced as the school's new principal. Lesho, who currently is principal at St. Paul Grade School in Weirton, will take over for Steve Grasser, who has been at Madonna for the last two years.
The announcement was made by the Rev. Manuel T. Gelido, designated pastor at Madonna, during a Mass at St. Joseph the Worker Parish, with the high school's students, as well as faculty from Madonna, St. Paul and St. Joseph the Worker Grade School in attendance.
PRINCIPAL CHOSEN — On Wednesday, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston announced James Lesho would take over as principal of Weirton Madonna High School, effective July 1. Standing in St. Joseph the Worker Parish following the announcement are, from left current Madonna Principal Steve Grasser, the Rev. Manuel T. Gelido, designated pastor of Madonna High School, and Lesho. Lesho has been the principal at St. Paul Grade School for the last 10 years. -- Craig Howell
"I am so pleased that Jamie Lesho has been named principal at Madonna," Bishop Michael J. Bransfield said in a statement released by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. "He and his family have deep roots in the Weirton community, and as a principal at one of Madonna's feeder schools, Mr. Lesho will enter his new position with a keen awareness of what will be needed to advance the mission of such a wonderful school."
The Rev. Larry Dorsch, pastor at St. Paul Parish, said he encouraged Lesho to pursue the opportunity when it became available, noting his focus on enhancing the curriculum at St. Paul School during his time there, first as a history teacher and then as principal.
"I think he has great talent as an educator," Dorsch said in making the introduction, noting Lesho is a 1988 Madonna graduate. His father, John, is part of the Madonna Class of 1959, and his mother, Marianne, has been on the school's staff for nearly 30 years. "He has Madonna blue blood."
Lesho said he was "deeply honored" to be selected for the job.
"I've always had a deep admiration for the school," he said, adding he looks forward to work with Madonna's faculty, staff and students to make the school "the best in the valley."
Lesho, who in addition to spending the last 10 years as principal at St. Paul School, also has coached football and wrestling at the school. Under his charge, enrollment increased by 50 percent, led the installation of a new playground, expanded the nutrition program and saw the creation of several tuition endowments while also infusing increased technology into the curriculum.
"I look forward to joining the staff at Madonna High School and working with St. Paul, St. Joseph the Worker, Sacred Heart and all of our local parishes and feeder schools so that together we may advance the mission of Madonna," Lesho said. "Even though I am very familiar with many members of the Madonna family, I do look forward to meeting all of the families, students, faculty and staff so that we may continue our school's strong legacy and commitment to quality Catholic education and service to our community."
Gelido offered thanks to Grasser for his time at Madonna, noting they had come to Weirton at about the same time.
"With his strong character and courage, he was able to lead us," Gelido said.
Grasser also took a moment to thank the students and faculty at Madonna, saying they often would bring ideas on ways to improve the school or to provide a service for Weirton.
"They see a need in the community. They see a need in the walls of the school, and they go for it," Grasser said.
He said when he leaves at the end of the year, he will take with him "excellent memories of a wonderful opportunity."
Lesho officially will assume his post July 1.
(Howell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)