A piercing shrill followed by a round of applause from South River parents greeted the news yesterday that acting principal James B. Hamilton had been given the job permanently.
Shriller Jenny Zifchak quickly covered her mouth after realizing she had not been able to hold back her excitement at yesterday's Board of Education meeting. She and five other parents raced from the school board meeting to inform other supporters of the news.
"I knew it was the right decision," Zifchak said, wiping away tears.
The battle waged by parents to see Hamilton made principal finally paid off when personnel director Carol Parham announced the appointment.
Hamilton, in his fifth year as assistant principal, had been serving on an interim basis since the summer.
Board members had been deluged with appeals on his behalf. For two months, parents have attended board meetings, urging members to make a decision. They even delivered a petition with more than 500 signatures in support of Hamilton.
Chuck Golch, president of the school's Sports Booster Club, said he supported Hamilton because he was impressed with his ability to boost morale at the school in only a short period of time.
"We are elated that they picked the man we wanted," Golch said. "It's made the staff, students and parents very happy."
South River was the only high school in the county operating without a permanent principal. School board President Nancy Gist said Hamilton was chosen "because of his skills, talents and abilities, and the fact that he has been working there."
Hamilton remained composed yesterday afternoon after learning of his appointment.
"I'm just happy the decision has been made and we can continue on the course we have embarked on this year," he said.
Also yesterday, school board members finalized their request for the state-financed Capital Improvement Program, in which the board is asking for planning approval for future construction money.
Even though no money is being sought for this school year, board members are seeking a commitment on future projects from the state's Interagency Committee for Public School Construction -- which includes the state Office of Planning, Department of Education and Department of Public Works.
Board members voted to move renovations to Deale and Marley Middle higher up the list because of the ages and conditions of the schools, then unanimously approved the list of 11 schools that must be submitted by Oct.
A work session between the board and state officials is set for Oct. 17, and the IAC's decision will be announced by Nov. 1.
The final approved list, along with estimated costs:
* Lindale Junior, to be converted to North County High: $11 million
* Parole Elementary, renovation: $3.5 million
* Center for Applied Technology South, addition: $2.8 million
* Meade Heights Elementary, addition and renovation: $3.4 million
* Marley Middle, renovation: $9.1 million
* Park Elementary, renovation: $3.9 million
* Southern Middle, addition: $3.3 million
* Deale Elementary, addition and renovation: $2.7 million
* South Shore Elementary, addition and renovation: $3.9 million
* Meade Area Middle, new school: $15.2 million
* Broadneck Senior, addition: $16.4 million