All the pieces were in place. Dr. Patricia Lally was in line to be the principal of the sparkling new when it opened its doors in August.
It would mark an apex in her career at TMHS, which began in 2003, as assistant principal and continued when she was named principal in 2007. Over the past four years, she had played a key role in campus, both in her role as an administrator and her place on the New High School Building Committee.
Her place at the grand opening of the new school had been well earned and was something she was looking forward to.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the ribbon cutting -- an opportunity that was just too good to pass up. Loreen Bradley announced her retirement as assistant superintendent of schools. Lally applied for and was named to the position earlier this month.
"It was a difficult decision to apply for the assistant superintendent's position, knowing that I would not open the new high school if I were the successful candidate," said Lally. "Over the past four years, I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in the planning of the new school. Working with the TMHS assistant principals, we have had the pleasure of choosing and checking on many of the final details. While at times it has almost been overwhelming, it has been very rewarding."
The 2011-2012 school year has been difficult for Lally, whose husband passed away almost a year ago. She credits her staff and the students for helping her deal with the grieving process.
"This year has been challenging without my husband and best friend, but the high school students, staff, and Tewksbury community have supported me and enabled me to face every day," she said. "The students have included me in their activities and have greeted me daily with smiles and encouragement. This year, the Drama Club invited me to join them on their trip to Disney World; the kids allowed Eileen Osborne, Dave Moffat, and me to be part of the gang!"
Lally realizes that in succeeding Bradley, she has enormous shoes to fill. Bradley was feted at a recent School Committee meeting, where her contributions over 18 years in the district were recounted.
"(Loreen Bradley has) done a tremendous job on behalf of students," said Superintendent of Schools Dr. John O'Connor. "As an administrator, she has been a great asset to me as director of curriculum."
"Thank you for truly making a difference here in the Tewksbury Public Schools," said School Committee Chairwoman Krissy Polimeno.
"You're only as strong as the support you receive and I've been fortunate to receive support at all levels," said Bradley.
Lally said she has admired the work Bradley has done and will hope to build on what she has accomplished.
"There are many of Lorry’s initiatives that I would like to continue and some new programs I would like to propose," said Lally. "One that I have mentioned to the Administrative Team and the high school’s amazing librarian is the training of high school interns as assistants in the District’s school libraries. Our students are a great resource for the schools and the town."