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St. Francis High names lay person as principal

St. Francis High School in Athol Springs has named a lay person as principal for the first time in the school's 78 years.

Thomas Braunscheidel, currently an assistant principal, will be the first non-Friar to become principal of the school, which is run by the St. Anthony of Padua Province of the Conventual Franciscan Friars.

A friar, the Rev. Michael Sajda, will continue to fill the top leadership post at the school. Sajda will succeed the current school president, the Rev. Joseph Benicewicz, effective July 1.

Braunscheidel, who has been at St. Francis since 1993 and worked as an instructor and guidance counselor before becoming assistant principal, assumes his new post the same day.

"With fewer priests, fewer friars, we have to rely on lay people to assist," said the Rev. Mark Szanyi, vicar provincial of the St. Anthony of Padua Province.

Braunscheidel is "well imbued with the Franciscan tradition" and will carry on that tradition as a friar in the principal's seat would, Szanyi said.

Braunscheidel will be the 15th principal of St. Francis.

Sajda, who is currently the principal, has 27 years experience in high school education and served as president of John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce, Fla., from 1997 to 2001.

Benicewicz, the first president in a new governance model introduced at St. Francis in 2000, was elected treasurer of the province and will move to its headquarters in Ellicott City, Md.


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