CRESTVIEW — Dexter Day has come full circle at Crestview High School.
From a 1979 alumnus, sports standout and homecoming king, he now has moved into the principal's office.
The former assistant principal's last couple weeks have been a non-stop cavalcade of meetings, interviews and phone calls.
As command of the school transfers from retiring Principal Bob Jones to Day, "I'm still doing a lot of the stuff I was doing prior to coming to this position," Day said.
"You can't just give somebody a new job. You work them through it. Bob's very helpful in the transition. He's doing a great job of being a mentor."
Heading his alma mater wasn't exactly on Day's bucket list. Head coach and athletic director struck him as the real desirable job.
"I asked for it twice," Day said. "But you have to be careful what you ask for because what you want may not be what you need."
As Day assembles his staff, including finding a new assistant principal, he likens the challenges ahead to building a winning sports team.
"A head coach is only as good as his assistants and I feel like I'm moving in the direction of having great assistants and a great staff to move forward and provide a great opportunity for the students at Crestview High School," Day said.
"I'm going to lead by example. I'm going to be committed to a work ethic and have a commitment to student achievement."
Day plans to require vigorous academic achievement from students who participate in co-curricular activities, including sports and school clubs.
Failure to maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average will send a student to twice-weekly tutoring.
"I'm a living example that you can't play sports forever," Day said. "You have to have something to fall back on and it has to be that academic piece."
Community support— and outreach
Like Jones, Day, a Crestview native, appreciates the strong support his school receives from the community. And he believes students should pay it forward.
"We need to have those kids out in the community," Day said. "Kids need to ... give back to the community.
"All you hear is fundraising, fundraising, fundraising. But when they take, they have to give back. Go rake somebody's yard. Help some elderly couple. Do some good."
As the school year winds down, Day is knee-deep in plans for the 2014-15 academic year. Toward that end, he's been canvassing faculty members for their ideas and needs.
"If you do not ask others you're setting yourself up for failure," Day said. "You have to get input before you make decisions, but you have to be firm in your decisions after you make them."
Day stressed how much he values the education he, his siblings and cousins received at Crestview High, and wants to ensure future classes of Bulldogs have the same opportunities and feel the same way about their alma mater.
"I want it to mean something when the fight song plays. I want it to mean something to them, you know?" he said. "I want it to be right behind the national anthem.
"I love the kids. That's why I do this."