Students and staff mourn loss of Pacheco High School founding principal
LOS BANOS, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Los Banos school is mourning the loss of its founding principal, who lost his battle with cancer during the Thanksgiving break. Pacheco High School named its gym in honor of Principal Brett Lee last month. Monday students and staff are remembering him as a mentor, friend, and an inspiring leader.
Students and staff held vigils over the holiday break after learning their beloved principal lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday.
"I asked my son to bring me to the school. It was 11 at night, and when we drove by the school there were already about 75 kids assembled in front of the school we recently named after him," Pachecho High Acting Principal Grace taylor said.
Now that school is back in session, counselors are helping students cope with the loss. Many are writing letters to lee's family sharing how he impacted their lives.
"He means a lot to our school. He motivated us to do anything, we could do anything. He's the one who motivated us to go for our dreams. He still does even though we lost him," Pachecho High Senior Dominique said.
Lee was the first principal at Pacheco High School when the campus opened its doors and welcomed nearly 800 students in August of 2010. He took a medical leave in January, but found the strength to speak at graduation in June.
"His body may have quit, but he never quit, and he continued to provide us guidance through this whole process up to his passing," Taylor said.
Students say Lee greeted them every morning and gave great motivational speeches at pep rallies. He believed in the phrase "Panther Strong" and later inspired the term "Brett Strong." Staff members say his legacy will live on in their optimistic approach to education and in the success of all Pacheco students.
"It hurts that he's gone but we know he'll always be with us no matter what," Dominique said.
A memorial service will be held Saturday at 9 a.m. at The Church of Latter Day Saints on Center Avenue. Everyone is invited to attend.
los banos, south valley, education, sara sandrik
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