Superintendent Charles Prijatelj to retire


Courtesy of Dr. Prijatelj

Trumpet. Prijatelj is currently a part of the Altoona Brass Collective. He plans to continue his study of music after he retires.

After seven years at the school district, Dr. Charles Prijatelj is stepping down from his position as superintendent and retiring. Dr. Prijatelj has had multiple contributions to the school district throughout his time as superintendent. 

“Building the new building and getting that project completed was the biggest [contribution],” Dr. Prijatelj said. “There are several others such as updating the curriculum for kindergarten through twelfth grade. We’ve pretty much touched on every piece of the instructional continuum for content in English, reading, writing and mathematics.”

Dr. Prijatelj has overseen other construction projects and creation of new systems throughout the district. 

“A lot of construction projects have taken place: the new softball field, new tennis courts and working on redoing the baseball field,” Dr. Prijatelj said.  “The building project was huge because once it was completed, I think everyone realized how necessary it was. We also had massive overcrowding in the elementary schools that has been alleviated with the creation of the new system of kindergarten through fifth [at elementary schools], sixth through eighth [at the junior high] and ninth through twelfth [at the high school].” 

Dr. Prijatelj believes a challenge he faced was having the education students are receiving benefiting Altoona as a whole. He feels the students receiving education can help the city in the future in making new businesses. 

“The biggest challenge has been making people understand the value of education and driving the local economy,” Dr. Prijatelj said. “We have gotten the Mansion Donut Company, JJ Hadleys’, Clay Cup, Railroad City Brewing, Saint Francis and Penn State Altoona. We need to be a part of helping them and working with them to build a stronger Altoona.” 

Members of the school board, including Brad Hatch, are being considered for the position Dr. Prijatelj currently holds. Hatch is the current assistant superintendent. 

“I would like to be considered for the position of superintendent. I am very excited about the position I have had in the school district so far and will definitely be applying,” Hatch said. 

Hatch has worked in the school district for over 20 years, starting his career as a science teacher. 

“I have been here my whole career, since 1996. I was originally a science and biology teacher at Roosevelt, then became an assistant principal there. When consolidation happened, I became a junior high school principal and then, seven years ago, I was put into the position I am in now,” Hatch said. 

Hatch believes he has a strong relationship with Dr. Prijatelj and is glad they have the relationship they do.

“[Our relationship] is very unique, almost like father and son. He has also been a great mentor in terms of running a school district and working with the programming. Our relationship has really evolved and blossomed,” Hatch said.

 Senior Kaityln Ventre, student representative of the school board, believes her relationship with Dr. Prijatelj is also strong and his retirement will change the school board.

“It is sad to see him retire. I really like Dr. Prijatelj, and I think he did a great job [as superintendent],” Ventre said. 

Ventre became student representative this school year after an application process last school year. As student representative, she writes a report on what is going on in the district. 

“Last year there was an interview process where they interviewed all Student Executive Officers. Then, at the beginning of summer I got a letter letting me know that I got the position,” Ventre said. 

After retiring, Dr. Prijatelj plans to continue his previous music career and move to a different city.

“My wife wants to move back to where her family is from, so we will be moving back to the northern Pittsburgh area. I am also planning on attending Duquesne University School of Music graduate school and getting an artist diploma in performance on trumpet,” Dr. Prijatelj said.