Library to be named after former principal

After leading a new school into a new era, the first principal of Columbus East High School will be honored for his contributions to local students when the school library is renamed in his honor.

Principal LeRoy Nelson was the man at the helm when East opened its doors for the first time in 1972, serving as principal for five years.

At Monday night’s Bartholomew Consolidated School Board meeting, Nelson will be recognized for his work at East when the school’s library is renamed as the LeRoy Nelson Library.

“It’s a chance to honor somebody who has done a lot for education,” said Mark Newell, Columbus East principal.

In a letter to the school board requesting the library’s new name, Newell credits Nelson with developing a spirit of innovation at the new high school by encouraging teachers to step out of their comfort zones and try new instructional methods that improved students’ classroom experiences.

“He led a staff that was open to new ideas about education and willing to take risks in the interest of better serving their students,” Newell wrote. “These same qualities are evident in our staff today, which is a testimony to the original school culture that was developed 43 years ago under LeRoy’s leadership.”

For his part, Nelson said he remembers his time at East as an overwhelmingly positive experience. Naming the library in his honor is the capstone of his long education career, he said.

“It’s a highlight in my life,” Nelson said.

The seven-member school board will officially approve the renaming of the library at its Monday night meeting. Nelson will attend the ceremony in his honor, along with his family. The meeting, open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. at Columbus East High School.

If you go

What: Columbus East High School renames its library after LeRoy Nelson, the school’s first principal

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Columbus East High School, 230 S. Marr Road, Room C110

Also: Event is open to the public, Nelson will attend with his family

About LeRoy Nelson

LeRoy Nelson, 85, first served as a guidance counselor and assistant principal at the original Columbus High School before becoming principal at the new Columbus East High School in 1972. He worked at East until 1977, when he become assistant superintendent of secondary education. Nelson returned to Columbus North High School in 1979 to become principal, a position he held for 12 years before retiring. He lives in Columbus.

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5712.