Duluth Students Mourn Late Assistant Principal

Posted at: 12/06/2012 4:20 PM
Updated at: 12/06/2012 6:20 PM
By: Travis Dill

The school extended students' homeroom period Thursday morning to inform students and answer any questions. School administration said additional counselors were on hand to support students and staff.

Vance Hopkins passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday at the age of 61. He was the Assistant Principal at Ordean East Middle School. Superintendent Bill Gronseth expressed what the atmosphere was like at school on Thursday.

“He was a master at building relationships with kids and people throughout the community so there's a huge feeling of loss,” Gronseth said.

Hopkins served at many schools around the district. His death will affect students and staff throughout the city.

Hopkins began his career as a teacher and desegregation leader at Central High School in 1993. Duluth School Board Member Bill Westholm was the principal of Central at the time. He said Hopkins will be remembered as a problem solver.

“He did a heck of a job, I think, of working with kids. They related to him well and he understood them. He understood issues and was always willing to resolve those issues. So you know that's a nice legacy for anyone to have,” Westholm said.

Large papers were placed in the school's cafeteria on Thursday, and students wrote condolence messages to Hopkins' family. One student wrote that he was the “nicest assistant principal ever.”

His connection with students is what is irreplaceable.

“Mr. Hopkins is the kind of person that they came to to talk about things, to work through issues, and they're going to miss that,” Gronseth said.

Hopkins was assistant principal at Central High School just before it closed. Students that transferred to Denfeld were also informed of his death on Thursday.