School district looks close to home for new Eagle River High principal
Eagle River High School didn’t have to look far to find its new principal.
“I live three miles away,” said Tim Helvey, who was confirmed by the Anchorage School Board to replace Marty Lang earlier this month.
Not only does Helvey live in Eagle River with his wife and two boys, he spent the last school year just up the Glenn Highway at Eagle River’s friendly rival Chugiak.
“I loved Chugiak, the community there was awesome,” said the 47-year-old, who taught social studies in Bristol Bay and Ninilchik before becoming an administrator.
Before becoming the activities principal at Chugiak, Helvey worked in ASD at West, Dimond and South. He’s also been a girls basketball coach, leading the Bristol Bay girls to a state title in 2005 and helping Ninilchik do the same as and assistant. He also led a rebuilding project at West, where he turned a 1-35 Eagles squad into a state title contender.
Chugiak High principal Megan Hatswell said she thinks Helvey is a great choice to lead Eagle River.
“He’s a very good communicator, and he’s very knowledgeable with sports and activities,” Hatswell said.
Hatswell said Helvey is “a very easy person to work with” who gets along well with just about everyone.
“I think Eagle River will be lucky to have him,” she said.
In replacing Lang (who took a job in the district office this spring after seven years leading Eagle River), Helvey will be taking over for a popular principal who was widely respected in the community. Under Lang’s watch, Eagle River has produced some of the best standardized test scores in the district.
“You can’t replace Marty, he’s done a great job,” Helvey said. “I just hope to continue doing what he’s done.”
Helvey said his first year will be spent simply getting the lay of the land at ERHS and its unique student body.
‘‘I don’t plan on coming in and making changes right away,” he said.
With fewer than 900 students, Eagle River is the smallest high school in the district. It’s also the one with the highest percentage of military families, with 46 percent of students having at least one parent on active duty.
A veteran who served six years as an Air Force security policeman, Helvey said he’s looking forward to working with the school’s military families.
“That’s probably one of the most exciting parts of my job,” he said.
Helvey began his new gig earlier this month. He plans to take three weeks off this summer to work as a fishing guide in Bristol Bay before returning to Eagle River to resume prepping for the upcoming school year.
“The first year is all about seeing what works.”
Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call (907) 257-4274.