Staff rotate through positions

Seniors have seen administrators and counselors come and go during their four years


Isaac Oronsky

Assistant Principal Tucker Farrar, left, and Principal Megan Keefer have worked together at Cal High for the past two years.

With three principals, rotating counselors, and two new assistant principals over the last four years, Cal High’s graduating class has seen it all.

The Class of 2021 caught the end of Sarah Cranford’s tenure as principal, after she held the position for four years. She left Cal for the Contra Costa County Office of Education in the fall of 2018.

Then came Christopher George, whose time was short-lived. After nine months as principal, he parted ways with Cal to become the assistant director of secondary education at the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD).

Going strong for the past two years, Megan Keefer is Cal’s current principal. After starting out as a teacher at Dougherty Valley and working as an administrator at the other district high schools, Keefer is now proud to be a Grizzly.

“I bleed orange and black,” she said.

Along with Keefer came assistant principal Tucker Farrar. And, after former assistant principal Andy Briggs left in Nov. of 2019 to be a principal at Los Cerros Middle School, Jeff Osborn became one of Cal’s assistant principals as well.

The three of them joined existing assistant principals Kathleen Martins and Catie Hawkins, solidifying the administrative team known by Cal students today.

“For an administrative team to be effective, it must be close,” Keefer said.

As many of these administrators began their time at Cal together, they have been able to learn and grow as a group. Keefer said Martins and Hawkins also fit right into this dynamic, as all five of them have been able to learn each other’s strengths along the way.

“I think that the Class of ’21 benefited from having a functional admin team,” Keefer said.

Even though administrators have changed repeatedly while current seniors have been at Cal, many haven’t felt a drastic impact.

“I feel like all the principals we’ve had have done a great job,” senior Anika Gautam said. “[Cal’s] always running the same.”

While many students note their positive experiences with all administrators, the amount of changes is sure to have caused some worry.

“It’s been a little confusing because I think all students want to get to know their principal and the admin they’ll be working with throughout high school and that’s difficult to do when they keep changing,” senior Priyanka Krishna said. 

Over the past four years, Cal has also had a rotation of counselors. When Keefer began, Cal’s student population was growing, so an additional member to the counseling staff was added. 

After Patty O’Malley left last year and Kim Denton left early this year, Cal is now at eight counselors, excluding student support.

“It usually had been rare to have openings in counseling,” counselor Cheryl Youngerberg said on the uniqueness of the counseling staff’s situation over the last few years.

Added onto the fact that every year students are moved from counselor-to-counselor within the existing staff because of Cal’s fluctuating population and constant changes in the number of students within each alphabetical category, has meant various counselors for many seniors throughout their high school experiences.

“[Changing counselors] worried me a little bit at first because this year with college applications, keeping contact with our counselors was pretty important,” senior Saisudeshna Kothur said. 

While counselors can request to stay with a student even if they are no longer under their assignment, some students still end up saddened to leave the old counselor they had gotten used to.

“I knew my old counselor pretty well and I enjoyed having her as my counselor so when I switched counselors I was a little bummed,” Krishna said. “I really like my new counselor, but I just haven’t met with her nearly as often as I did with my old counselor.”

Seeing as these changes can be worrisome to many students, the counseling staff tries to limit changes as much as possible, even through the changes their department has gone through in the last four years.

“[Counselor switches] can definitely be hard,” Youngberg said. “We try to minimize it.”

But since the counselors are able to function as a team and help each other and their respective students when needed, these changes haven’t been difficult for some students.

“It wasn’t hard to adjust,” Gautam said. “[My counselors] always reached out.”

Over the past four years, the Class of 2021 has seen multiple changes in administration and counselling. While Cal has adjusted, before Cranford’s departure it hadn’t seen a principal change in four years.

Now as seniors move on, the school left behind has seemingly formed solid administration and counseling teams, along with deep connections to the Class of 2021.