The start of the school year usually brings new changes to students in many ways, and at Christopher Columbus High School this fall brought changes from top-level administration down to the walls that support the school itself.
For the first time its 57-year history, the school has appointed a principal who does not belong to the Marist Brothers congregation. Columbus welcomes a familiar face to the role of big man on campus.
David Pugh emerges as principal in his 17th year at the school and seventh year in administration. He enters his new role after working closely with both students and parents as an assistant principal and dean of students. Columbus president, Brother Kevin Handibode, said choosing the school’s new leader was an easy decision.
“Dave will put in hours and hours of dedication to the school and the school year started very smoothly mainly because of this leadership,” Handibode said. “I think he has a great vision for the school and has the backing of everyone here.”
Pugh comes into office with energy, enthusiasm and a readiness to propel the school’s standing traditions far into the future.
“From Day One, I believed in what they were doing here at Columbus High School,” Pugh said. “It was my type of school and they believe in everything that I believe in. If they would have me as principal for a long time I would be happy to be here.”
Another big change comes to Columbus in the form of a 45,000-square-foot athletic facility. The All Sports Fitness Complex & Bernhardt Wellness Center arrives on the Westchester campus with the help of the school’s supportive parents and deep-rooted alumni base. The estimated $9 million facility was brought to life from funds raised entirely by donations.
This year marks the first time that students, faculty and athletes have access to the entire use of the two-story facility. Administrators say the vision came about after realizing their previous weight room wasn’t meeting the needs of their strong athletic program and growing student body.
The state-of-the-art building consists of a Fitness Complex for sports-specific training and a separate Wellness Center open to all students and faculty. The Wellness Center is home to physical education and health nutrition classes — promoting cardiovascular exercise and healthy lifestyle choices. The goal was to give students who are not part of the athletic program their own place to exercise without the intimidation of team athletes.
“I like it a lot since I don’t have to pay for a gym. I can come over here after school, meet up with my friends and get some work in,” said senior Carlos Castaneda. “It really helps a lot of us get together because some kids I don’t even talk to at school but sometimes they need help in the gym and I’m always there. For leadership purposes it really helps some of the seniors get together with the freshmen.”
The second floor of the building is fully equipped with team locker rooms, coaches’ offices, classrooms and a spinning room overlooking the length of the Explorers’ football field. Certified personal trainers assist in guiding students to live a healthy lifestyle while safely achieving their fitness goals.
The new building is unrivaled by many other high school fitness centers in Miami- Dade and comparable to some Division I universities. Principal Pugh said they already have seen a tremendous increase in use by students and faculty and expect its popularity to continue to grow throughout the school year.