Mark Savage of Heritage High School in Wake Forest was named Wake County Principal of the Year Thursday night.
The honor comes just months after Savage saw the first class to graduate from the new high school, which opened in 2010.
Savage put an emphasis on student clubs to create the culture and a sense of school spirit.
"When a student is willing to stay late and pour additional time into their school, they are more likely to be connected," Savage said. "We doubled club participation with club days at orientation and during lunch and leadership training for all clubs. We formed homecoming court from representatives of each club. We devised programs to increase connectedness."
Teresa Caswell, of Lead Mine Elementary, was named Assistant Principal of the Year.
Earlier Thursday, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools honored their leaders.
Amy Rickard, principal of Morris Grove Elementary, was named 2013 Principal of the Year. She began her career as a language arts teacher in Kannapolis City Schools and has worked in Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools since 1999.
She, too, is a "start-up" principal, having taken the job at Morris Grove when the school opened in 2007.
Both Rickard and Savage advance to the statewide Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year competition.