New Wasatch High Principal Wants Students To Enjoy School
Though he’s just starting his first year as principal of Wasatch High School, Justin Kelly will be a familiar face to many.
Principal Kelly knows from once being a student there himself that the school, which serves 2,600 students, is a place filled with opportunities.
He has a mantra for his administration’s approach to the student experience: “Harvard education, Army discipline and Disneyland fun.”
“I want all kids to succeed and learn at high levels,” he said. “We want students to come out of here from Wasatch with an experience unlike any other. We want them to be prepared for their careers, whether that’s college, whether that’s a trade. There are so many programs that we have available to students. There are just so many things that students can do here at Wasatch.”
Kelly was born and raised in Midway, where he still lives. He holds a degree in history from Utah State University and has spent 21 years with the Wasatch County School District.
First, he taught eighth grade history, student government and P.E. at Rocky Mountain Middle School. Then, he spent six years as assistant principal there before becoming principal, which has been his job for the past nine years.
He said he believes learning and fun should go hand in hand. Coming off a year like no other for students, teachers and school administrations, he’s looking for a balance between safety and an enjoyable student experience.
“I want kids to get excited about coming back to school,” he said. “I think we’ve got to give kids back the experience that they’re longing for - some normalcy, an assembly, a dance, a time to get together. Because right now, they are getting together after school, but why not have it part of being the experience of going through school? I want my students to come to school because they love coming to school.”
He said school he and school staff know the pandemic is not over, and they will follow the guidelines of the Wasatch County Health Department, which do not include a mask requirement.
One way Kelly says the school will try to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks is by frequent cleaning, including between classes. He says students are encouraged to wear masks and get vaccinated, but only if their families choose.
The school’s policies are subject to change in accordance with the health department.
Kelly says teachers are “excited about kids coming back to school and to see kids’ faces.”
14 teachers are also new at the high school this year, including 10 who replaced former teachers and four in new positions.