On his first day as a high school principal, Josh Delich must have covered three miles before breakfast. He ran up and down the steps of Polytechnic High in Fort Worth -- through libraries, gyms, and the cafeteria --greeting students, encouraging his teachers, and helping the parents who were registering kids at the last minute.
"I like the hair, man," he said to a student as they shook hands. "Just make sure when you get going to class the hat is off."
Delich wore an orange seersucker jacket over a T-shirt that said “I read, what’s your superpower?” Orange is a color of the 100-year-old high school, and the T-shirt is a nod to his new literacy program. Delich asked all of the Polytechnic teachers to wear the same shirt for the first day of school.
The infectious enthusiasm of Delich's first day will likely be tested this year. He’s the fourth principal in five years at Poly. More than 80 percent of his students are considered poor, and many don’t speak English at home.
"Every school has challenges," he said. "I look at Poly as a way to reach a community that needs changes and has some things going great."
The state rated the school academically unacceptable a few years ago, and nearly shut it down. While the students have caught up to state standards in most areas, Poly just missed the goals for attendance and graduation rates last year.
Delich’s morning of running around got even more exciting when Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price stopped by. He rushed her to the library to meet new parents, while he ran back to the main office for the morning announcements.
“Good morning, Poly High School," he said with the zeal of a true Poly believer.
Delich has been a principal before -- at Riverside Middle School in Fort Worth. He recognized some of the kids and parents he saw Monday morning. He says he looks forward to seeing them cross the stage at graduation soon enough.