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JUST IN: Alexandria City High School Principal Peter Balas announces move to Arlington

Alexandria City High School Principal Peter Balas speaks at the commemoration of Noah and Josephus Lyles at Market Square in Old Town, October 10, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria City High School (ACHS) Principal Peter Balas announced that, after graduation in June, he’s heading north to become the new principal at Arlington’s Wakefield High School.

Balas, who has been with Alexandria City Public Schools for 22 years, took over at then-T.C. Williams High School in 2017. Since then, Balas has navigated the school through Covid, the “One T.C.” decision, the school renaming and issues around violence in the school.

ACHS saw frequent leadership turnover in the years before Balas took charge and, though continued turnover at the leadership level in the years that followed, Balas has been a stabilizing force for the school.

“To watch these students grow over time is more rewarding than I ever anticipated,” Balas wrote. “And, seeing all of my elementary school students now at the high school has given me one of the most unique and special opportunities of my career. My time in ACPS has made me a better teacher, leader and person.”

Balas said he won’t leave until June to see the school year through until graduation.

Balas full letter is below:

Dear Titan Students, Families and Friends,

Today, I write to you with a heavy heart and with many mixed emotions. After 22 years with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) as a teacher, an assistant principal, and a school principal at Mount Vernon Community School (MVCS) and Alexandria City High School (ACHS), I am saying farewell to you all as I explore the next phase of my career. This evening, I was publicly named the new principal of Wakefield High School in Arlington Public Schools and wanted to make sure you heard this news from me, personally.

Over the past two decades, I have been blessed to meet the most amazing students, colleagues, families and community members in this wonderful City of Alexandria. I am very proud of my time with ACPS both as a teacher, learner and school leader. In reflection, I am so proud to have helped MVCS advance dual language and biliteracy with some of the most supportive and talented staff. In addition, in my time at ACHS, I am so excited to have been part of amplifying students’ voices through the school renaming process, participated in the High School Project, led the school during times of a dual pandemic, and worked to strengthen student support systems and school safety, all while having our Titans consistently shatter athletics, academic and arts records on local, state and national levels.

This letter does not serve as the official end of my time with ACPS. I will be here at Alexandria City High School until the end of June. We have a lot of work to do to get our Titans across the graduation stage in just a few weeks. Nothing is more fulfilling than handing students their diplomas each year at graduation. To watch these students grow over time is more rewarding than I ever anticipated. And, seeing all of my elementary school students now at the high school has given me one of the most unique and special opportunities of my career. My time in ACPS has made me a better teacher, leader and person.

In addition, we are still working hard to close out this year successfully and continue scheduling for next year. I will continue working with my team on this important work. Please know that I will be working with the ACHS administrative team, and the superintendent and her cabinet to help transition the school during this time.

In closing, I am honored to have had the last 22 years with the most amazing students, staff, families and community. I cannot even begin to thank you all for your support and guidance. I have learned and grown so much. I hope you have found me to be the kind of leader that made a difference in the lives of ACHS Titans. And, please know I will only be a few miles down the road and still be a proud citizen of the City of Alexandria. And, it is my true hope that what I often write to others applies to me: Once a Titan, Always a Titan.Sincerely,

Peter Balas, Executive Principal

Alexandria City High School

King Street Campus

Minnie Howard Campus

Satellite Campus

Chance for Change Campus

H/t to Andrew Beaujon

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