By Savannah Jones

BLACKSVILLE, W.Va. — After 23 years of service at Clay-Battelle High School, David Cottrell retired as the school’s principal at the end of the year to take up the role of president of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference.

Cottrell came to Clay-Battelle High School as the assistant principal in 2001, moving into the role of principal in December 2011. He said the school’s community support has been overwhelming throughout his career.

“One of the main things that sticks out is our community support. Our school there in Blacksville is supported by the Clay-Battelle community. It’s amazing the community support we get, and just in the last week, all the well wishes I’ve gotten, it’s a testament to our community,” he said on WAJR’s “Talk of the Town.”

Cottrell said the decision to retire stemmed from wanting extra time with family and new opportunities. He said the timing of his retirement will allow him to spend time with his 86-year-old father as well as pursue other interests.

“[I’ve been] really blessed in my career to get to come back to the high school that I graduated from in my hometown and be the principal and the assistant principal, so I’ve had a nice career and a good time to retire,” he said.

Graduating only 53 students in 2024, Cottrell said Clay-Battelle has a different feel than larger high schools in the area due to the smaller number of students. He said that as a principal, he was able to get to know students on a personal level and get to know their families as well.

“We get to see the kids grow up. We get those kids in sixth grade, and we get to watch them mature and grow up into young adults, and I think that’s one of the reasons that our graduation rate is so high too is that we get to know these kids personally,” he said.

Clay-Battelle boasts a 90% graduation rate under Cottrell, and he anticipates that it will continue to soar as he leaves office.

Cottrell will serve as the president of the OVAC for the next two years, hoping to expand the league to 58 teams. He said he was prepared for this role by serving on the WVSSAC Board of Directors for 10 years, serving three terms as president.

The OVAC serves as the largest high school athletic conference in the state. Cottrell said the size of the conference allows for teams to play a large number of conference games without having to travel.

He said his priority is to be available to schools and parents and represent the league well, and he said he will enjoy continuing to support high school athletics.

“It’s still getting me around high school athletics, which I love, and getting me around to see kids and see kids from different schools,” he said.

In addition to his role with the OVAC, Cottrell will serve on the Community Health Center Board of Directors and the Clay Battelle Water Board.

Although he is moving on to new opportunities, Cottrell said he will miss the students and staff at his alma mater.

“It’s been bittersweet,” he said. “I’m going to miss the students, and I’m going to miss the staff. They become family.”

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