McCracken County High School Principal Michael Ceglinski has plans to share with students a different side of his life beyond school leadership: his faith.
Beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, an event titled "From Converse to the #StangGang" will be presented at the high school's performing arts center by Salt and Light Community Church and both West Kentucky and MCHS' Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The event's title stems from Ceglinski's image, as the high school leader is known for wearing Converse sneakers with his work attire. The "#StangGang" is what Ceglinski said the school's students refer to themselves as a group. It's a play on the high school's mascot, the mustang.
"The intent is to share my life with them, to provide a message that's inspirational, share my testimony, to see a different side of their principal," Ceglinski said. "I'm going to talk about my faith and its importance to me ... at least in public schools, a lot of kids don't get to see at school every day that side of people."
The event is open to all area youths, not just McCracken County High School students. It's set to serve as a back-to-school event and will include music from Justin Hatcher and a painting demonstration by artist Tim Bertram of God's Graffiti. Jeff Russell, youth pastor at Salt and Light Community Church who also has a child who goes to MCHS, said he developed the idea for the event in January.
"I thought it'd be a good opportunity for the principal to tell his story. Apparently the kids just love him, but I don't know if they know his story, so I asked him if he would speak at the event," he said.
Ceglinski said his story is aimed at inspiring students to overcome obstacles.
"I want them to realize that we go through hard times and there are trials in our lives, and that we can overcome them," he said. "I have just as many issues as they have. I didn't just fall out of the sky and become their principal."
"I hope they can become inspired and do great things," he added.
Ceglinski said he plans to share his spiritual story and also emphasize the school's motto, "Work Hard, Be Nice," which he's known for iterating to students.
"All 2,000 of our kids could probably recite that motto if you ask them. They hear it every day," he said.
Ceglinski said the school's enrollment on Friday was already up about 150 more students than last school year, and additional students were expected to register. Classes begin Wednesday.
Contact Paducah Sun staff writers Lauren Duncan at 270-575-8692 or Katie Paxton at 270-575-8655.