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August 30, 2013

Zoppo set to take reins as Fenwick principal

PEABODY — When Brother Thomas Zoppo left his post as president of Baltimore’s Calvert Hall College High School last June, he cited family considerations. He was coming home to the Boston area, he said, “because of a need to be close to my family.” Yet, he wasn’t planning to be the new principal of Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody.

Rather, he spotted a notice that Sister Catherine Fleming had left to go to St. Mary’s in Beverly, and he decided to apply. Accepted, he isn’t due to start until next week but couldn’t stay away. Sitting in the principal’s office yesterday, he smiled, recounting the warm welcome he’s gotten.

“And very, very early on, I heard there’s an incredible spirit here,” he said.

A member of De La Salle Christian Brothers, Zoppo is just generally impressed with what he’s found at Bishop Fenwick.

“We have a large freshman class coming in,” he said. “That’s a source of a great deal of encouragement. There are an awful lot of schools struggling with enrollment. So, Bishop Fenwick must be doing something right. And that’s a credit to the faculty and staff.”

He’s taken the school’s success into account when planning his goal for the future: “To take something very strong and make it stronger.”

Expect sports to matter.

“Sports plays a key role in each school,” Zoppo said. “It helps develop the entire child. ... It instills some very, very important life skills. And coaches sometimes have as much of an impact on the kids as teachers do.”

Raising money will be among his duties.

“We have some facility issues,” he said.

He’s impressed with the school plant and its well maintained grounds — he nodded to the football team on the modern turf field out back.

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