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Pope Francis High School Names Thomas McDowell Interim Head

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski has appointed Thomas McDowell interim head of school for Pope Francis High School. He will begin his position in late July or early August. Meanwhile, a national search for a permanent head of school has been undertaken.

McDowell is a retired school superintendent, having served most recently as interim superintendent in Wethersfield, Watertown, and Tolland, Conn. He also has served as superintendent of schools in Plymouth, Conn., and in Westfield. He said he looks forward to the new interim position at Pope Francis High School.

“It’s exciting, building something new,” he said. “I like the idea of having one school as a superintendent, with a smaller group of kids.”

He said the advantage of serving a smaller group of students will be the opportunity for more communication and more presence in the school community. “What I miss most about being a superintendent is being close to students.”

McDowell will oversee day-to-day school operations while Paul Gagliarducci remains on as executive director of the Pope Francis High School project, focusing on construction of a new facility as well as other elements regarding the creation of this new Catholic secondary school.

In September, the students and staff of Holyoke Catholic High School in Chicopee and Cathedral High School in Springfield will officially merge, becoming Pope Francis High School in its temporary location on the present Holyoke Catholic campus. Construction of the new Pope Francis High School building on Wendover Road in Springfield is expected to begin later this year, with an anticipated completion date in 2018.

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