IGNACIO – He was a deejay. He literally set the stage for bands like the Rolling Stones. He’s a pastor at a church in Aztec.
Now, Eric Arpelar is the next principal at Ignacio High School.
Arpelar will replace current high school principal Melanie Taylor, who will retire May 31. The Ignacio School District is experiencing high-level staff changeover. Arpelar is one of many who will be transitioning into a new position.
“I’m humbled and grateful and honored,” Arpelar said. “What I have to do now, I have to come into work every single day and just work hard and prove to everybody that they made the right decision.”
Arpelar will leave his position as vice principal, and activity and athletics director at C.V. Koogler Middle School in Aztec to assume the Ignacio position this fall.
His top priorities are to shadow Taylor while getting to know the staff and the students. Since he works in New Mexico, he said he will also need to learn about the Colorado Department of Education, state testing and teacher evaluations.
In addition to the high school, district administration and Ignacio Middle School will see leadership changes.
Rocco Fuschetto, Ignacio superintendent, is officially on the path to retirement. The school board unanimously approved his transitional retirement request Monday, which means he will continue working for a set period of time, often a year, before retiring. The board is in negotiations over the details of the arrangement.
Chris deKay, the current middle school principal, will become the district curriculum director, replacing Kathy Pokorney, who is retiring. The district is still considering his replacement.
At the high school, Arpelar plans to use his unique past and prior school administrator experiences to connect with the Ignacio community.
In the past, he worked as a deejay, sound engineer, lighting technician and videographer. He set up lighting and sound for U2, the Rolling Stones, Green Day and World Wrestling Entertainment.
As an actor, he played a truck driver in an independent film, “Hurry Up and Date.” He was once in a Texas Rangers commercial with Nolan Ryan and Nelson Cruz.
“They called me, and this guy asked, ‘Do you still have those Wolverine sideburns?’ ... That was the whole reason they put me in the commercial,” he said.
As a teacher, he focused on technical theater, professional speech, acting and communications for high school and middle school students.
Arpelar said his experiences have opened communication with students. High school principals in small communities are viewed as role models, he said.
“You’re viewed not only as a principal, you’re viewed as a community leader,” he said. “You just want to make sure you’re a part of things. You’re building that rapport and those relationships.”