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Secondary position suits Pinnacle's principal

Sun Advocate publisher

Kelly Alton is the first principal of Pinnacle Junior and Senior High Schools in Price. Alton is a longtime veteran of education in the area.

For Kelly Alton, being the first principal of a new secondary school is a challenge he has lived his whole life to face.

Alton, who has taught, coached and worked as an assistant principal for 22 years, has found his assignment at Pinnacle Canyon junior-senior high school to be refreshing.

The school has an enrollment of 170 plus students.

"Really, this is what I lived to do much of my life," said Alton. "I wanted to be a principal. It's why after I retired last year from Emery School District and, when they offered me this job, I jumped at it. I wanted to grow up to be a principal."

For Alton, relating to children comes naturally.

While many teenage students may think they have problems that teachers and principals can't understand, few youth have faced the childhood that Alton faced and the challenges it presented.

Alton was born in Ohio and, after a mine accident, his father became an invalid. Because of a series of setbacks, he later found himself and his siblings in an orphanage.

"Every time I see that movie 'Ciderhouse Rules,' it reminds me of my childhood," said the principal. "In some ways, I was that kid."

Eventually, Alton's father brought the children back into a family and they moved to Hurricane.

"I'm not sure how we ended up there, but that is where we went," he said.

But after a few years, the family ended up in the same situation and he and three of his siblings found themselves in an orphanage in California.

However, the Alton family who had known him as a kid in Cedar City offered to adopt him and he found a stable, secure and solid life.

Alton spent many of his teenage years in Arizona, where the family relocated.

The family moved back to Hurricane late in his high school years.

A few years later, he worked his way through Southern Utah State College. Upon graduating with a bachelor's degree in speech and drama with a minor in instructional media, it was time for him to get a job to support a growing family that he had begun during his time in Cedar City.

In 1976, he and his wife moved to Emery County, where they were offered teaching jobs.

For the next two years, Alton taught at Canyonview Junior High.

"Then the lure of the mines came along and I couldn't pass up the money," he said.

For the next six years Alton worked at Wilberg, Deer Creek and the Des-Bee-Dove mines. He first worked underground and then eventually ended up in employee relations.

In April 1984, Des-Bee-Dove closed and he decided to return to the classroom.

That fall, he began teaching English at Emery High School.

He later became the media center coordinator at the school and, for his last 10 years at Emery High, acted as the assistant principal.

Being part of a family of 19 children, still brings him back to his main emphasis in education - children.

"The culture of this school is extremely different from other places I have been," said Alton. "It is a unique place."

Many teachers enjoy the fact that they can mold students and influence their lives. However, Alton sees administration as more of an opportunity to do that.

"In the classroom, I could touch kids lives. But being a principal, you can really have an in-depth effect on them," pointed out Alton. "I look forward to helping students who need help; I have a lot of empathy for people and their situations."

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