LEE -- Nearly 25 years after graduating from Lee Middle and High School, Gregg Brighenti is returning to his alma mater -- as its principal.

Lee Public Schools interim Superintendent Alfred Skrocki has named Brighenti the new leader of the school, which houses Grades 7-12. Skrocki, with assistance from a search committee, said the Lee native was by far the best of the three finalists he interviewed for the position.

In all, 12 applicants were seeking to replace Joseph Turmel, who resigned effective Monday to become principal at the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional High School near his hometown of West Springfield.

Brighenti officially takes the reins of Lee High on Aug. 1 and will earn an annual salary of about $92,000, according to Skrocki.

"He has the good administrative background we're looking for at Lee High," Skrocki said. "He will also help fill the void of us no longer having a curriculum director."

A 1990 graduate of Lee High, Brighenti, 41, has spent his entire education career in New Hampshire. After receiving a master's degree in education from the University of New Hampshire in 1995, he spent the next seven years teaching chemistry at Concord High School. In 2002, Brighenti accepted the assistant principal's position at nearby Pembroke Academy, and three years ago he became the school's director of curriculum.

When the Lee High principal's job opened up, Brighenti felt the time was right to return home.

"I thought it would be a great experience to go back; not many people have the chance to be principal of a high school they went to," he said in a phone interview from New Hampshire.

Since Brighenti left Lee, the high school was renovated more than a decade ago with a middle school wing and auditorium added to the nearly 50-year-old building. His first look at the improved high school came during a recent visit for the job interview and he was impressed by its upkeep.

"I was amazed how clean it was being it was toward the end of the school year," he said, "and the auditorium is gorgeous -- we didn't have that when I went there."

To reach Dick Lindsay:

rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,

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