New building, new principal in Hermosa

Ron Burtz

Hermosa’s new school has additional classrooms, a state-of-the-art playground and a spacious corner principal’s office with large windows that will eventually look out on the student drop-off/pick-up area on the south side of the building once the project is complete.
The school also has a brand new principal to occupy that office.
With the resignation of former principal Lori Enright last spring, the district had to look for someone to take her place. It didn’t have to look far.
Forrest “Frosty” Paris, was serving as  assistant principal at Rapid City’s Robbinsdale Elementary.
While he is new to the position of head principal, Paris is certainly no stranger to education or to small-town South Dakota.
When Paris was growing up in Sturgis, his dad, Mike, was a teacher and head football coach “for as long as I can remember.” Mike later became an administrator and activities director in Sturgis.
“I’ve always been around education,” said Paris.
However, he said it wasn’t until he went to college at BHSU that he decided he wanted to coach and work with kids. While in college, he coached football, wrestling and track.
He began his teaching career right out of college by taking a job as a teacher at South Middle School in Rapid City.
“I spent nine years teaching seventh grade math and science at South,” said Paris, but eventually he began working on getting his master’s degree to become an administrator.
When they learned of his plans, the school’s principal, Larry Stevens, and assistant principal, Jeanne Deming, were supportive.
“They really took me under their wing,” Paris said. “Whenever I had questions, they were there to answer them for me.”
After completing his master’s two years ago Paris made the move to Robbinsdale.
He said those were tumultuous years because the school year was cut short by COVID in 2020 and the second year was just as chaotic.  
Paris owns a home on the south side of Rapid City and said, while his previous two-minute commute to work has turned into a 12-15 minute commute to Hermosa, he has no plans to move for a couple of years at least. He said the drive, especially at the end of a long day, can be a valuable time to unwind.
Paris said his current home address works well for his wife, Cady, who works at Black Hills Energy, and for his oldest son, Tucker, who is 16 and a junior at Douglas High School.
Paris’ two younger children are Sutton, a third grader, and Lexi, a first grader at Grandview Elementary in Rapid City.
Still active in coaching flag football and youth wrestling, Paris said he already knows several kids in Hermosa because of wrestling.
“It’s definitely an exciting time,” said Paris in reference to Hermosa’s new school. “I’m super happy for this community, the staff and students for this new building. We’re still working through some of the kinks and the timing of getting kids from one end of the building to the other. Our staff members are real rock stars. They’re working hard to educate the kids.”
Paris’ top priority for this first school year is to build a school culture of people helping one another. He has already received emails and other expressions of support from the community.
When asked about his nickname, Paris said he gets that question a lot and admits he got the moniker from his grandfather who was also named Forrest. According to family lore, the elder Frosty was given the nickname by a coach when he was a kid and it stuck.
“Being his namesake,” said Paris, “I’m pretty proud of that. I sometimes get some grief from my students when they find out my name’s Forrest or Frosty, but I use it to my advantage to build relationships with kids. I let them call me ‘Mr. Frosty’ if they want to.”
Grandpa Frosty owned a baseball card shop in Sturgis for several years when Paris was young and he remembers riding his bicycle down Main Street to spend time with his grandparents.
“Those are some good memories from back in the day,” said Paris, noting that, while Hermosa is even smaller than Sturgis, he’s glad to be back in a small town. “Coming from that sort of community, this is what I was looking for, for sure.”

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