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Nov 4, 2010 11:05 PM by Ariel Wesler

New principal has great expectations for Santa Maria High

Santa Maria High School has a new leader on campus and he graduated from the school.

Joseph Domingues started at the school this fall after graduating in 1993. He's taking over for former Principal Craig Huseth. Domingues faces some tough challenges to pull the school out of its academic slump.

Principal Joseph Domingues is committed to helping santa maria high school make the grade. The school ranks dead last of the three public high schools in the community for student achievement and students say it's reputation isn't much better.

Domingues started as principal this fall and so far, students say they're are already seeing results.

"The fact that he's coming in here and he's trying to change that attitude and he's making new goals for everybody. It's really inspiring," said Senior Ana Jacobo.

"He's very charismatic and he knows how to get people to work together," said Senior Patricia Gutierrez

Domingues helped some girls start a student advisory board to make sure they had a voice.

"As many students as possible can come and present their concerns directly to the advisors and not have to go between all these other people," Gutierrez said.

He also created a new program for Spanish-speaking parents called "El Cafecito."

"It's bringing parents to speak with him and we're working together," said Parent Arulfo Romero.

Working together, Domingues says his main goal is to raise the bar and push student achievement. He has his sights set on getting Santa Maria High state recognition as a "Distinguished School in the next five years.

"There's a high expectation, which can sometimes rub people the wrong way, but if we say nothing, and allow that expectation to remain, that last place, it's an injustice," Domingues said.

As an alum, he is driven by his passion for the school and a strong family tradition.

"My grandparents, my wife, even graduated with me here, so it's special," Domingues said. "This school is special. It's a home. I'm home."

and an interesting statistic - Domingues says about eighty percent of the students at Santa Maria High are considered English-Language learners.


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