PARADISE (CBS13) — As Paradise begins the painstaking process of rebuilding their town, the community at Paradise High is losing their leader.
“Leaving for me personally is important for the PTSD and the trauma,” said Principal Loren Lighthall.
The trauma was caused by the Camp Fire, which killed scores of people and displaced thousands. Lighthall is principal of Paradise High, which had to relocate to a building in Chico.
He penned a Facebook post to his student body telling those who lost so much in the fire that unfortunately they are losing him too. He has resigned to take another job.
“Huge loss for the school. I don’t know that we could replace a better principal. He’s amazing,” said cheer coach Cat McMurray.
“It really sucks that he’s leaving so soon and I really wish I could have had him for all my four years,” said student Lyllianna Vaughn.
Lighthall says he’s leaving primarily for his family. With a wife and seven kids, five of whom are still at home, housing in Chico has become expensive and hard to come by. Currently, they’ve been getting by in apartments.
But there’s more to it, including the Camp Fire which still burns in the minds of those affected. Lighthall says wherever he goes in town, he can’t escape the reminders.
“It becomes a situation where everybody I see is affected by the fire and they want to talk about it and I want to talk about it too, but at some point, we need to get away from that. And not relive it every time we have an encounter,” said Lighthall.
He’s conflicted about leaving because he knows he’s letting some people down.
“People are understanding, but they’re also melancholy about it,” said Lighthall.
Lighthall will start as the principal at Hughson High School in Central California this summer.