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PR hires Menahga principal

Joleen DeLaHunt will assume the Century School principal position in July. Menahga's grade school is home to 575 students, Century welcomes approximately 1,000 each day. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Joleen DeLaHunt will occupy the Century School principal's office come July, and welcome students, come September.

DeLaHunt, who currently serves as Menahga School's elementary principal, has accepted the kindergarten through eighth grade principal position at Century.

"She brings a wealth of experience in a variety of areas," superintendent Glenn Chiodo said of the decision reached Tuesday night.

A field of 30 applicants was narrowed to six. Three committees interviewed the group of "strong candidates" to reach the final decision.

"I love our school," DeLaHunt said Thursday of Menahga. "I'm humbled to be a part of a staff that's achieved great things," she said of students achieving adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals and increasing enrollment.

"Now I'm looking forward to taking Park Rapids to the next level of achievement," she said.

DeLaHunt has worked in education 20 years, as principal at the Menahga School for the past 11 years. Previously, she taught Spanish at the high school and junior high level. She earned her administrative degree and specialty license from St. Cloud State University.

DeLaHunt recently earned a Leadership Achievement Award from the Minnesota Elementary School Principal's Association, selected by peers.

Her office door in Menahga is awash in congratulatory cards.

"It was well deserved," a staff member said of the award. "But I'm still mad at her," she said, grinning.

DeLaHunt informed the staff of her resignation Wednesday, with tears shed.

"We're happy for her," said Menahga superintendent Mary Klamm. "She will do a great job for Park Rapids. I totally understand," she said of DeLaHunt's decision, noting the DeLaHunt family "is a big part of the Park Rapids community. An opportunity to move like this doesn't happen often.

"She put the elementary school in a wonderful place. She's a good leader. Our teacher leaders will continue on. Everybody grows when something like this happens," Klamm said.

"She brings an excellent background," Chiodo said of DeLaHunt's experience in the curriculum process, technology upgrades - including SMART Boards - and the community relations component.

"She has layers of skills which will be a benefit to us as a system," he said. "She's a nice fit."

DeLaHunt, who's married to Dave DeLaHunt, is the mother of two Park Rapids students, Ryan, a ninth grader, and Matt, who's in seventh grade.

Their enrollment in Park Rapids was part of the impetus, she said.

The Park Rapids School Board is expected to finalize the decision at the March 21 meeting.

She will assume the position July 1.

"It's a challenge and opportunity," DeLaHunt said, citing Park Rapids' "strong administrative team. I'm excited to be part of that team."