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Principals Bring Experience, Ideas to New Academic Year

September 02, 1996|DADE HAYES

Russ Thompson began his tenure as Van Nuys High School principal with a difficult task. A few weeks after starting work in July, he helped organize a lottery that determined which students would be allowed to attend Van Nuys and which would take a bus across town.

The lottery system resulted from parents' objections to a year-round schedule proposed to alleviate overcrowding. Watching young people committed to Van Nuys get turned away introduced Thompson to the challenges of running a school with an enrollment of about 3,300.

"It's a tough spot to be in," he said of unlucky lottery participants.

Rather than dwell too much on the summer, though, the native Angeleno is looking ahead. "Everyone has told me we have a real strong teaching staff, so I'm excited for the school year," he said. "I try to get paperwork done at night so that during school hours, I can keep flexible and get around campus."

Thompson comes to Van Nuys after a stint as assistant principal of Westchester High. Before that, he held the same position at Locke High in South Los Angeles for four years and at Roosevelt High in East Los Angeles for six months.

A graduate of Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., Thompson holds a master's degree from Cal State Dominguez Hills and a doctorate from UCLA. Before becoming an administrator, he taught English and reading in L.A. schools.

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