Students and staff at King High School welcomed new principal Damian Perry, a 1994 alumnus, this year. Former principal Deborah Jenkins was promoted to deputy executive director of the Detroit Public Schools Community District.
This is Perry’s 17th year as a principal. He left Mumford High School to return to his former high school to lead and expand King’s programs.
“My No. 1 goal is to really ensure students receive nothing but the best in education,” said Perry. “To really make sure we are building our pathways and programs, MSAT, CISC, and we actually go further in building our sports, medicine, marketing, and management pathways.”
Last school year’s virtual learning has had a negative impact on students’ attendance. They lacked computer time which caused last year’s chronic absenteeism rate. Perry is working diligently with attendance agent Wilbert Black to rectify this problem.
“We had a year and a half of literally learning in a way that we have never been forced to do all our educational lives,” said Perry. “Twenty-four percent of our seniors, if graduation was today, 24% would be eligible to graduate.”
Changing the school’s climate is another priority for Perry. He has monthly town hall meetings with the students. During this time, he not only reviews rules and expectations but also encourages students to do their best at all times.
“Some of the challenges have been to refocus everyone in this building on the goal which is graduation and at the end of your years [at King] you guys are prepared for whatever college or career you choose,” Perry said.
Change has already begun and is noticed within the building. The former dress code with black bottoms and a white collared shirt is still in existence. However, any day of the week students can wear their King attire, which makes for a more relaxed environment.
“The difference from last year and this year is enforcement and structure, being able to follow through and taking accountability, in order to succeed. It’s important to make sure that the students be where they need to be every day,” ninth grade administrator Dennis Veal said.
There are students who believe that Perry is doing a good job even though he runs a tight ship. The halls are clear, and students are going to class when they are in the building.
“Mr. Perry is a cool principal. He has the school in order,” junior Kayla Jackson said.