Mr. Barbetta moves to RFK after four years

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FORMER PRINCIPAL Anthony Barbetta will now move on and become the new principal of Robert F. Kennedy Community High School.

Mr. Barbetta thanked students, staff, and parents for making his job “fun, challenging, and exciting.” He cited the school’s ratings at the city, state, and national level as hallmarks of his four year tenure, while also referencing achievements like the addition of new Advanced Placement courses.

“Leaving THHS was a very difficult decision. I enjoy working with students and will continue to do so. I think being a principal is the greatest job in the world. Being able to influence a school and have an impact on students’ lives is an incredible responsibility, something that I take seriously and with enthusiasm,” he said.

When describing his overall experience here at THHS, Mr. Barbetta noted, “I had a wonderful and memorable experience. I will miss the tremendous relationships I developed within the community and the strong collaboration with the Assistant Principals and faculty.”

“There are many memories that I will take away. The events, such as Founder’s Day, Election Simulation, SING!, FON, The Phoenix readings, the interviews with The Classic, the sports dinners and, of course, graduations were always fun and exciting. The many competitions I looked forward to attending include Science Olympiad, Robotics, Mock Trial, and the sporting events. A special memory was when I attended the landmark designation of the childhood home of THHS alum Jonas Salk with colleagues and students. Another fond memory is participating in two school plays,” Mr. Barbetta described.

Commenting on her experience working with Mr. Barbetta, Assistant Principal Veronica York remarked, “It’s always sad to see someone you are close with leave. I consider Principal Barbetta a colleague and a friend, I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”

Harrisites and faculty members always felt Barbetta’s presence throughout the school.

Social studies teacher Adam Stonehill recalled, “I think what was nice about him [Mr. Barbetta] was that the school continued to succeed and there was a comfortable atmosphere under his leadership. Sometimes if you’re in a great place, you have to make sure it stays great. I think he did that.”

Class of 2016 alum Jason Lalljee said, “I loved Mr. Barbetta’s encouragement of all our crazy schemes—whether it was stuff we were doing around the humanities department or stuff the robotics team was getting done. I liked that he made an active effort to know as many names as possible.”

“I appreciated how hard he fought for students,” noted Class of 2016 alum Noah Silversmith.

Sophomore Gen Kramer said, “I never knew Principal Barbetta personally but I would always see him in the halls and he’d wave hello so that was really nice to see. I’m definitely going to miss his presence since he made me feel very welcome my first year in the school.”

Junior Cerissa Huggins compared Mr. Barbetta to a father. She added, “We all wish him good luck where he is.”

“My favorite part about Mr. Barbetta was his school spirit. I would always see him at games, concerts, plays and almost every school event I could think of,” said Class of 2016 alum Evan Noblesala.

Senior Student Union President Alex Chen stated, “What I appreciate and will miss most about Mr. Barbetta is something that anyone could recognize, not just a president.

“I will always remember his reliability; I could always count on seeing Mr. Barbetta at the front door at 8:20 in the morning, ready to greet us, or his voice on the loudspeaker whenever it was a significant day, or even just his constant use of quotations in his speeches. We could always rely on Mr. Barbetta to hold our best interests in his heart, despite us being over a thousand and him being one. Yet, his one voice always spoke for our thousand.”

“While it may seem like a principal doesn’t play a big role in a school with highly motivated students like Townsend, his support and faith for our endeavors is what I’ll remember most,” added class of 2016 alumna Olivia Chan.

Mr. Barbetta praised students’ “eagerness and passion for learning.”

“I think their strong desire to achieve and be successful is inspiring…It’s also wonderful that students take advantage of the academic, extracurricular and sports programs.”

Assistant principal Rafal Olechowski also had fond memories of Mr. Barbetta. He described Mr. Barbetta as easygoing and a problem solver. “He was [the] first principal I worked for as an Assistant Principal. It’s a personal mark for me…I got to know him very well over the last few years. He affected many areas of the school… he really changed the atmosphere of the relationship between the administration and the teachers and the students.”

“He changed the school as a community because he was very approachable, very direct, [and] he was positive. He was always willing to talk to everyone and he was easygoing. [That] easygoing atmosphere was a big accomplishment because a school leader has a great affect on how the school [as] a whole feels.”

Mr. O continued, “I was new and I was learning how to be an AP and he was extraordinarily tolerant of all my mistakes. [He had] an unending trust…[and was] enamored by how intelligent and respectful and mature [students were].

“Mr. Barbetta taught me not to worry about too many things. [When] Niko [my son] was just born, I had a lot of responsibilities and Mr. Barbetta said, ‘Don’t worry. Don’t forget that you have a family at home..and that you can’t live here…go spend time with them. I want you to plaster the walls with the photos of your wife and family,’ which I did. [He said] to look at those pictures [during difficult moments]. [There was] such a human dimension [to] him, it set a powerful precedent.”

In terms of leaving a legacy, Mr. Barbetta remarked, “I don’t think much about a legacy. I am proud that THHS remains one the best schools in the country with an incredible high demand for admission…I am most proud that together as a school community, we were able to continue to fulfill the vision of the school and the Ephebic Oath,” he said.

“I wish you all continued success,” he concluded.