Wake County Schools

Athens Drive High principal dies

Posted August 2, 2016

— Athens Drive High School Principal James Hedrick died Tuesday morning, Wake County Public School System officials said.

Officials said he died after a morning run, but the cause of death hasn't been determined.

Hedrick was named principal at Athens Drive High in Raleigh two years ago after nine years as principal at Green Hope High School in Cary. He previously taught in Winchester, Va.

"He was a champion for his kids," said Wake schools Assistant Superintendent Doug Thilman, who previously was principal at Cary High School. "(He) loved working with students, loved his staff and (was) just a great overall school leader."

Superintent Jim Merrill called Hedrick a dedicated educator and family man and said he would be "greatly missed."

"He was so supportive and encouraging," Athens Drive High social studies teacher Shavonne Hairston said. "He had our backs and would listen to us."

"He could take a hard line – he was a seasoned educator, that's for sure – but he always knew where that line was and would protect his students and staff with all he had," Thilman said.

Athens Drive High is converting to a magnet school this year, focusing on medical science and global health.

"For us, it's going to be starting off a new school year not knowing what's going," Hairston said. "We just became a magnet school and have a lot of things going on at once. It’s just kind of picking up the pieces and figuring out where to go from here."

Hedrick is survived by his wife, Camille Hedrick, who is principal of Panther Creek High School in Cary.

Crisis counselors were at Athens Drive High on Tuesday to help faculty, staff and any students who need support.


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