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New principals named at Horace, Harwood

Two principals have been hired to do the jobs one man has carried for more than 25 years.

After Principal Jerry Barnum announced he will retire in May after serving as principal for both Harwood Elementary and Horace Elementary Schools, the school district began examining how best to fill his dual-role.

The school district announced Jason Markusen will be hired as principal of Horace Elementary School and Jerry Standifer will become principal at Harwood Elementary School.

Superintendent David Flowers said while the two schools are the smallest in the district, they are the farthest apart geographically and are expected to grow as West Fargo and the school district continues on its rapid pace of expansion.

“It’s just become apparent the staff needs the support of the principal in their building more than half time,” Flowers said. “So, we thought with Jerry’s retirement it was an opportune time to change that configuration and also get some help with some of that central portfolio.”

Markusen is a North Dakota State University and University of North Dakota graduate that started his career in 1998 as a classroom teacher. He has served as a junior high assistant principal, elementary principal and principal of an alternative school. He will be moving back to North Dakota from his current position in the Owatonna (Minn.) School District. Owatonna is a community of about 26,000 located about an hour south of the Twin Cities.

Standifer started his career in 2000 as a classroom teacher and has served in administrative roles since 2004 before moving to the West Fargo district in 2006. Standifer has served as the district’s full-time AVID (Achievement Via Individual Determination) program coordinator.

Flowers said Standifer will continue to coordinate the AVID program, which he has turned into a successful venture for the district, growing participation from the middle-school level to include high school students.

AVID is a program that helps prepare students for college that might not have aspired to go to college without a program such as Avid. The program consists of a curriculum but also has a class that is really a support group for the students, Flowers said.

“I believe we’re the only district in the state that has this nationally recognized program at this time,” Flowers said.

The two men will begin their new positions on July 1.

Barnum has been an employee of the district for 37 years. He has served as principal of Harwood Elementary since 1983, and as principal of Horace Elementary since 1987.

A retirement celebration is planned for Barnum at 4 p.m. on May 7 at the West Fargo High School Commons, 801 9th St. E.