Pasquale Scuderi, the new principal of Berkeley High School, spoke last night to the PTSA. In an energetic presentation, filled with humor, Scuderi expressed his optimism about Berkeley High, while recognizing the scale of the the principal’s task at such a large, complex institution.

“I get this mix of shock and empathy in peoples’ looks,” Scuderi said. “And from hearing from very many parents I now know every synonym for being upset — distressed, troubled, alarmed…”

But Scuderi insisted that parents, his team and he are united around the same goals of ensuring that every student gets a good education and has a good experience at BHS. He mentioned a number of things that he already has started at the school.

“My team and I are being more visible,” Scuderi said. “We’re in the hallways and in the classrooms. And we’re not in the classrooms merely fulfilling our basic duties. We want to create an atmosphere where we consistently talk about teaching and learning.”

Scuderi also acknowledged worries about safety at the school and in its neighborhood. “We’ve had great support from the Youth Services Division at the Berkeley Police Department,” he said. Pointing towards Civic Center Park, he said, “We’re working on that patch of grass across the street, which seems to be a center for undesirable activities.”

The school is also establishing relationships with the Downtown Berkeley Association’s Host Ambassadors, a team that works to maintain safety and order downtown. Berkeley High has an open campus and many students walk downtown during the lunch break. Scuderi said that the Host Ambassadors would be invited to the BHS campus so they could build better relationships with the students.

Responding to questions, Scuderi explained that Berkeley High is in the midst of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges‘ accreditation process. Many people, he said, had suggested that the school submit for a one-year extension, since work that should have been done last spring was not completed. Scuderi wants to push for completion this year: “We are so hyped and out of the gate on this that we are going to try and get this done.”

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...