Madison West High School principal Ed Holmes told parents he will retire in June after leading the school for 10 years.

Efforts this week to reach Holmes, a 24-year veteran of the Madison School District, were unsuccessful. But in a letter to parents of West’s 2,200 students, Holmes said, “the job has been all I anticipated and more.”

Holmes’ retirement is effective at the end of the 2013-14 academic year.

In the letter, Holmes praised West’s staff as “some of the most committed, passionate and talented education professionals in the country.” He said he will miss the sense of community and extended family at the school.

Holmes also said West’s “tremendously talented” students “have inspired me to learn and grow and have pushed my thinking and leadership over the past 10 years.”

Madison School Board president Ed Hughes praised Holmes for his leadership over “one of the best high schools in the state,” which routinely churns out some of the highest numbers of National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists in Wisconsin.

The West High School student body also outperforms the national average by large margins when it comes to the ACT and SAT college aptitude tests.

Hughes said the quality of a school often traces back to its principal, and Holmes “will certainly leave big shoes to fill.”

He added that Holmes did a good job managing a unique school that features a large number of high-achieving students, a diverse student body, talented teachers and parents accustomed to excellence.

“Any major high school is a challenge to lead,” Hughes said, adding that the school at 30 Ash St. is “a very lively place.”

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Holmes previously was principal of Wright Middle School for six years. When he took over there in 1998, Holmes was credited with providing needed structure and discipline to the 225-student school.

In 2003, Holmes earned a prestigious national education award from the Milken Family Foundation.

At the time of his award, Milken recognized Holmes for Read 180, a literacy initiative to help students who were two or more years behind grade level in reading.

Milken also credited Holmes for the Minority Youth Career Awareness Program, a year-round math and science enrichment program for middle school minority students that also has a focus on career and college readiness.

He took over as principal at West High School in 2004.

“As principal and a parent of two West graduates,” he wrote. “I continue to believe in the ideals that have been passed down from one generation to the next in the storied tradition and legacy of excellence at West.”

It was not immediately clear how Holmes’ position will be filled.

State Journal reporter Molly Beck contributed

to this report.

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