Q&A: New Bishop Machebeuf principal ‘excited and grateful’ to lead beloved high school

Rocio Madera

After an extensive search for the right person to lead Bishop Machebeuf High School, a few weeks ago the school finally announced the hiring of its new principal, Mr. William Perales.

For the past two years, Mr. Perales has been a Principal at a Catholic high school in Fort Worth, Texas, where he led the implementation of a classical education curriculum, both with academic content and instructional strategies. He brings extensive experience in Catholic education to his new role and said he is “excited and grateful” to lead Bishop Machebeuf High School.

Just a few days before school starting, Mr. Perales sat down with the Denver Catholic to introduce himself to the community, and share some of his accomplishments and plans for the future of BMHS.

Denver Catholic: What sort of background do you come from?

Mr. Perales: Raised Catholic by wonderful Catholic parents, I have been blessed to work in Catholic schools for over 20 years. I have taught English language arts, religion, math, and science at the elementary school level and then English, history, sociology, and theology at the high school level. For four years, I was also an adjunct instructor in philosophy and religious studies at a small liberal arts college.

After working on the Fort Worth diocesan curriculum committee with K-12 academics, I became principal of an elementary school where we developed a classical curriculum and enriched the Catholic presence of the school throughout the academics and student activities. I then returned to high school as a principal to help lead the school with developing a more classical, liberal arts curriculum. During these last four years, I have continued to work with developing curriculum for K-12, assisted other schools in implementing a classical curriculum, and helped develop the curriculum for a New Teacher Formation Institute, a program that introduces teachers to the vision of Catholic education, guides them in instructional practices, and models key aspects of classical education.

My education has been influenced by the Catholic liberal arts tradition, as I attended the St. Ignatius Institute, a Catholic Great Books Program at the University of San Francisco where we studied many of the classics in literature, philosophy, theology, history, and art of Western Civilization. I continued my studies and earned additional degrees in philosophy (M.A.), theology (M.A.), and educational leadership and policy studies (M.Ed.).

DC: What does it mean for you to be the new Principal for Bishop Machebeuf High School?

Mr. Perales: It is a blessing and a privilege to be appointed the new Principal. I have been blessed to work in faith-filled and mission-focused dioceses and schools. Bishop Machebeuf and the Archdiocese of Denver are places where this can continue as there is such as strong understanding of the connection and integration of evangelization and education. For that I am very excited and grateful.

DC: What are your goals as the new principal for BMHS?

Mr. Perales: Our goals are to assist the Archdiocese in its mission of forming disciples. This is the Church’s mission and as a Catholic high school it is at the core of our mission. We will do so by forming and educating students to grow in faith, virtue, and wisdom. We will help our students to know Truth, choose Goodness, and love Beauty. We will do so by ensuring our students have deep and rich Christ-centered faith experience, excellent academics, and formative student activities that allow them to discover and develop their gifts and talents. In the end, it is our goal that our students are Disciples of Christ in the Catholic Church who are prepared and ready to respond to God’s call. In doing this, they will be prepared for not only what comes next in their life but have the foundations for faithful and joyful living their whole lives.

DC: What are you most grateful for in this opportunity in your life and career? And how has your faith help you through this journey?

Mr. Perales: I am most grateful to be “working” in the Catholic Church, especially in a place that is so focused on forming disciples. I owe so much to the Church. Along with my parents, the Church is how I know Christ and His love and His mercy and His consolation and most especially how I know and have joy in my life. For all this, I am grateful. Therefore, I try to give what I can offer to the Church and her mission. To be able to have a job that serves the Church is a blessing and gift to me. That is why I say “working” in quotes. This is my job, but it is really a vocation and a calling I am blessed and humbled to have.

DC: What are the greatest joys and challenges that you face as the new principal?

Mr. Perales: The greatest joys have been to get to know the wonderful faculty and staff. They are so Christ-centered and committed to the Church’s mission of making disciples. It is very inspiring and reassuring to come to work and be with them. The greatest challenges are making sure we have and continue to grow a strong community of staff, families, and the broader school and local community. This takes time, but it is key to the school’s fulfillment of its mission.

DC: As a principal, what message do you want to send to students and parents who are about to start a new school year during these uncertain times?

Mr. Perales: While there are many uncertainties in these times, there is one thing that is certain: Christ. One thing these times have reminded us is stay focused on Christ and to give all our concerns, uncertainties, troubles, and all to Him. Staying rooted in Christ will provide us the necessary strength and wisdom to navigate these times. The year ahead will have some uncertainties, which may increase or decrease as the year goes on, but what will remain throughout is Christ and the love, mercy, courage, and joy that comes with staying focused on and rooted in Him.

COMING UP: Bishop Machebeuf High School announces hiring of its first President

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As Bishop Machebeuf High School prepares to launch its new integrated curriculum in the fall, the school has announced the hiring of Dr. Anthony Bonta, Ph.D, as its new and first president.

Dr. Bonta will assume the presidency of the high school June 8. He hails from Crown Point, Indiana, where he most recently served as Principal and later President of Andrean High School, located in Merrillville, Ind. Dr. Bonta comes to Bishop Machebeuf with a wealth of ministerial, educational, and administrative experience.

To have someone of the caliber of Dr. Bonta at the helm leading Bishop Machebeuf High School is a tremendous blessing,” said Denver Catholic Schools Superintendent Elias J. Moo. It is clear to us that Dr. Bonta is a faithful son of the Church who is deeply committed to the mission of Catholic education. He is also deeply committed to helping young men and women encounter God through what is true, good, and beautiful, and to supporting them in growing in wisdom and virtue. He will be an incredible asset to the mission of Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Denver, and we look with great hope to the future of the school under his leadership.” 

After operating under the leadership of interim principal Kellie Carroll for the past year, the shift in leadership structure is a piece of a bigger plan to enable Bishop Machebeuf to further maintain a robust Catholic identity and achieve academic excellence.

Dr. Bonta’s pedigree within Catholic education is extensive. Prior to his time at Andrean, he served in the Diocese of Gary, Indiana, as Chief of Staff for Bishop Donald Hying, the Fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Gary, Indiana He has also been on faculty at several universities and colleges, including Marquette UniversitySpringfield College, and most recently at Calumet College of St. Joseph. 

Throughout his career, Dr, Bonta has prioritized strong relationships and partnership as the foundation for his leadership.

“These relationships are crucial in efforts and strategies to increase enrollment, develop internships, expand and enhance involvement of families, alumni and stakeholders in the school, and increase fundraising,” Dr. Bonta said. “Catholic institutions need to be instruments and beacons of transformation, tradition and innovation.”

Throughout the hiring process, Moo discovered qualities in Dr. Bonta which instilled within him and other school leadership great confidence that he will be an exceptional and fruitful leader for the beloved Denver high school.

“We have come to experience the humility, sincerity, genuineness, integrity, and intentionality with which Dr. Bonta leads,” Moo said. “These characteristics are precisely what the community named as essential traits for our President. Archbishop Aquila and the Board of Members are confident Dr. Bonta is the right person with the right vision to lead Bishop Machebeuf High School.”

Dr. Bonta moves to Colorado with his wife, Adela, and will be involved in the search for a new principal of Bishop Machebeuf High School, which continues to be underway.

“I am looking forward to establishing roots in the Denver area and to being the administrative and spiritual leader of the Bishop Machebeuf community for many years to come,” he said.