Students at St. John’s School gave their acting principal a song and dance send-off last week for her quarter-century of service to the Catholic school in Hollywood while welcoming another long-time educator to lead the school next year.
Debbie Standish, the school’s assistant principal since 1996, took over as acting principal through the end of this school year after the principal resigned in April.
Standish said she will retire at the end of this school year, which will be her 25th working at the Catholic school since she began as a teacher.
St. John’s School teacher Susan McDonough will take over as interim principal beginning this summer at the Catholic school in Hollywood.
Students and teachers planned a surprise flash mob May 25 for the retiring educator. After Standish was ushered into the school’s gymnasium, students hiding in closets and hallways poured into the room singing The Beatles’ “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da,” complete with a dance routine.
Standish stood on stage, holding back tears, throughout the song. Afterward, students held an awards ceremony; Standish swept the awards.
“I’m grateful for all the support I got from the community” over the last few weeks as she took charge of the school, Standish said. “St. John’s is a great family of good people.”
Standish said the school will be in good hands with McDonough.
“I think it’s an excellent choice” to have McDonough lead the school as interim principal, Standish said. “It’ll really help to make a smooth transition.”
McDonough’s term is set to last through the coming school year, during which time a search will be done for a new principal.
“It’s a new challenge for me,” McDonough said last week. The eighth-grade teacher is in her 11th year at St. John’s and has taught an additional five years at other Catholic schools, she said.
J.B. Watters, who was named principal of St. John’s School last summer, resigned at the end of April. School and Catholic church officials contacted at the time gave no reasons for Watters’ resignation, other than to say it was effective immediately.
The Rev. Ray Schmidt, pastor of St. John Francis Regis Catholic Church, said in a brief letter to the congregation at that time announcing Watters’ resignation, “We thank him for his service to St. John School this year and wish him well in his new endeavors.”
In the letter, Schmidt said he would work with the archdiocese schools’ office to “work diligently and search thoroughly for a new principal.”