Newly hired principal Craig Weinreich, who was an assistant principal here until 2019, aims to reconnect with students, staff

New+principal+Craig+Weinreich%2C+who+replaces+Allen+Whitten%2C+has+a+conversation+on+his+first+day+on+the+job+with+seniors+Lindsay+Bridges+and+Samantha+Perez+in+the+quad+on+April+13.+Weinreich+said+he+plans+to+continue+Whitten%E2%80%99s+policy+of+talking+with+students+during+break+and+lunch+in+order+to+be+accessible+with+students.

Audrey Seo

New principal Craig Weinreich, who replaces Allen Whitten, has a conversation on his first day on the job with seniors Lindsay Bridges and Samantha Perez in the quad on April 13. Weinreich said he plans to continue Whitten’s policy of talking with students during break and lunch in order to be accessible with students.

Jaimie Chun

For some veteran faculty members at Sunny Hills, Craig Weinreich is remembered as an up-and-coming English teacher in 1999 and a social science instructor a few years later.

While for boosters of the Lady Lancers basketball team, Weinreich is celebrated as the 2003-2004 L.A. Times Orange County Coach of the Year for leading the girls basketball team to its first CIF playoff victory in 2005.  

And for current seniors, he is a familiar face from when he was the assistant principal during their freshman year.

After his return in three years from being transferred to Fullerton Union High School as an assistant principal there in 2019 and then an administrator at La Habra High School from 2020-2021, Weinreich was hired at the end of March to replace Whitten after a three-month search for a new campus leader.

Just really excited to be back home is where I’m at right now.”

— principal Craig Weinreich

“Just really excited to be back home is where I’m at right now,” said Weinreich, whom district officials announced on St. Patrick’s Day as Whitten’s successor (Whitten was promoted last December to Student Support Services director for the district).

When Weinreich was notified about the opening for the principal position in January, he said the decision to return was not a difficult one because of his two decades’ worth of positive memories.

“[Sunny Hills] has just always been an amazing place with exceptional academics, fun athletics and fun programs for all of our kids. … I’ve been here, been able to see some low times and see high times, so I want to see us keep pushing forward,” he said.

UPHOLDING THE GOLD STANDARD

With Weinreich’s extensive administrative, teaching and coaching experience in a variety of positions on the Sunny Hills staff, including assistant athletic director (2009-2014) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges [WASC] group focus leader (2004), Weinreich said he  hopes his familiarity as a Lancer will help him develop a memorable environment for students.

“My goals are to find any way to build [well-rounded] students so that when students are here, they have a positive experience, enjoy their time, remember the four years here, and it’s hopefully one of the highlights they have,” said the principal, whose first official day on the job was April 13. 

Living up to Sunny Hills’ motto of providing every student every day with world-class education, Weinreich said he will strive toward preparing Lancers for their next stages in their future upon graduation.

“To me, it’s about building a positive culture and building positive relationships with others,” he said. “Continuing the balance where kids can get a great academic experience and become that well-rounded student colleges are looking for, but more importantly employers are looking for down the road.”

Weinreich, who has maintained a close friendship with his former boss, Whitten, and has kept the title of Whitten’s weekly digital newsletter – the Gold Standard – said he aims to continue his colleague’s progressive legacy.

I want to continue a lot of stuff that [Whitten] did like his active involvement, active leadership role among students and then just figure out what’s next for us — what’s the next big step we can take.”

— principal Craig Weinreich

“I want to continue a lot of stuff that [Whitten] did like his active involvement, active leadership role among students and then just figure out what’s next for us — what’s the next big step we can take,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with the staff, making the experience for students better and working through tough things like the pandemic and being positive throughout all of those things.”

WEINREICH’S IMMEDIATE GOALS

In accordance with the aspects students appreciated during their time with Whitten, Weinreich said one of his goals for the upcoming years includes interacting with students. 

“I want to be as visible as possible and try to get out to as many events throughout the day,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of students that know me, but a lot of students that don’t, so I definitely want to be out there involved in all different things.” 

Taking charge with about two months left in the school year, Weinreich said he was not able to be involved in changes like the new bell schedule for the 2022-2023 school year but was part of some recent staffing decisions like the hiring of new head football coach David Wilde. Meanwhile, his administrative team has helped him stay up to date.

“It’s tough going from being in a role somewhere else and then mid-year trying to shift, so a lot of it’s going to be listening and trying to reconnect with people. … Even before I officially began, this team has done a thorough job making me aware of any and all important pertaining information to what has been going on during this school year,” the new campus leader said.

It’s tough going from being in a role somewhere else and then mid-year trying to shift, so a lot of it’s going to be listening and trying to reconnect with people.”

— principal Craig Weinreich

Alongside meeting with department leaders since his first week on the job, the principal said he seeks to proactively spearhead re-energizing multiple programs – many of which suffered from low student enrollment because of the COVID-19 pandemic or turnover of staff. 

“I’m hoping to have good conversations with the student leaders and different students, staff leaders, department leaders [and] community members to figure out what things we need to be working on and areas we can improve,” Weinreich said. 

After being the driving force behind some STEM programs before being transferred to another campus, he said these pathways are an area he hopes to enhance.

“I am looking forward to seeing both our [Engineering Pathways to Innovations and Change] and Coding & Gaming programs strengthened in the number of students participating in them and getting both programs back up to their full potential,” Weinreich said. “We’re working with ROP [Regional Occupational Program] to provide us with a teacher and try to find somebody who’s appealing to students, enjoyable and able to engage students to get them involved in things.”

The administrator also said he is open to ideas that could involve programs collaboratively working together, such as ROP’s advanced video production team working to produce news broadcasts with the journalism program and then asking the Associated Student Body to help stream it on the campus’ jumbotron during break or lunch.

“We don’t have official plans for that, but it’s something we had talked about, and I would love to have something like that because it’s something I think students would enjoy and a nice thing to have here,” he said.

Journalism teacher and Accolade adviser Tommy Li said he’s looking forward to coming together with those program leaders to work on advancing media options on campus.

“So many other high school campuses have made so much progress in broadcast journalism, and yet we haven’t really done anything with that medium here,” Li said. “But like with everything else, funding is going to be a key component to be able to kickstart anything like this, and hopefully Mr. Weinreich can help us with that and support our efforts to make some inroads with broadcast journalism.”

FAMILIAR FACES

The principal also said he is thrilled to see his two sons —  freshman Liam Weinreich and senior Luke Weinreich, who was a freshman when his father was an assistant principal here — on campus.

“I’m excited to be involved in their lives,” Craig Weinreich said. “It was nice to be with my oldest when he was a freshman. … Hopefully, they’re just as excited as I am to be on campus and see the things that they’re doing and make their time here enjoyable.”

Luke Weinreich said he’s especially excited about what will happen between him and his father at the June commencement ceremony at Fullerton Union High School’s stadium.

“I’m really excited to have my dad plan my graduation and hand me my diploma — it’s a super awesome experience that most people don’t get to have,” Luke Weinreich said. “I think it’s a little sad that I’m not able to spend a long time with him here, but I was already able to spend my entire freshman year with him, so I’m just more excited that I get to experience this.”

Liam Weinreich, who said he learned of his dad’s promotion the day before the email announcement was made on March 17 to the rest of the Sunny Hills community, expresses similar anticipation for his next three years worth of experiences with his dad on campus.

Then I was nervous because I was going to have my dad work at the same school that I go to, but I was excited afterwards because I get to see my dad every day.”

— Liam Weinreich

 “My first reaction was that I was surprised because I didn’t realize it was going to be so soon,” Liam Weinreich said. “Then I was nervous because I was going to have my dad work at the same school that I go to, but I was excited afterwards because I get to see my dad every day.”

Craig Weinreich said he is excited to be interacting with familiar faces in addition to his family.

“It feels great to see students that I remember as freshmen, now seniors, so having the chance to be there with them for graduation is really big,” Craig Weinreich said. “To work with staff that I’ve worked with for over 20 years is also going to be a lot of fun.”

The principal’s secretary in the main office, Patty Johnson, shares the same excitement as she reunites with Weinreich – this time in a new capacity as his secretary. 

Mr. Weinreich is an amazing leader, and his spirit and enthusiasm are contagious,”

— Patty Johnson

“Mr. Weinreich is an amazing leader, and his spirit and enthusiasm are contagious,” said Johnson, who first met the new principal in 1999 when he was a teacher and served as WASC group leaders together. “I think we are all excited to see where his leadership will take us.”

Senior Samantha Perez, who remembers Craig Weinreich as the assistant principal when she was a freshman, said she had the opportunity to talk with him on April 13 in the quad when the principal strolled through and struck up a conversation with her.

“I’m very happy that he’s back because he’s always been a vibrant person, so having that energy back at our school is awesome,” Perez said. “He’s always making conversations, and they could be about random things, [so] I can sense that he truly cares about this campus.”

Eager to be back and contribute to the Lancer community again, Craig Weinreich said he aims to serve as a motivator, working with the community collectively to take steps that develop the school further from what is presently established.

“The goal is to keep moving forward, not resting upon the fact that we’ve got to such a place where people want to come and students want to be a part of,” he said. “I want to be someone who shows that, when they see opportunities — ones that help them grow and make them a better person — they can turn them into a positive.”