Former West student and athlete Luke Manuel, Class of 1995, has returned to his alma mater as assistant principal and athletic director.

Manuel came from Hendersonville Middle School, where he served as an assistant principal.

As a student, Manuel excelled in football, basketball and baseball. In football, he played quarterback. During his senior year, Manuel led the Falcons in a victory over Pisgah for the first time in the three years he had attended West.

“Coming to West as assistant principal was a homecoming of sorts,” Manuel said. “Everybody’s been really nice so far, and I’ve enjoyed being back here.”

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Above, Vice Principal Luke Manuel scans and files paperwork for his new job as a member of West Henderson Staff.

Now that Manuel is back, he enjoys working with some of his old teachers and coaches. He fondly remembers his former coaches, Frank Gerard and Paul Whitaker, as well as his former math teacher, Elaine Hooker.

“I have several coaches with me here on staff. I’ve been around Coach Gerard and Coach Whitaker. In a way, it’s kind of strange because our roles are different,” Manuel said. “At the same time they’re looking out for me, and they give me a heads up when there are things I need to know. Anytime you have a coach that commits as much as they do, you will always create a special bond with them.”

Teachers at West have welcomed Manuel back to school with open arms, including Gerard.

“We look to him as a leader now in the administration of our school as opposed to a leader on the playing field,” Gerard said. “He’s had nothing but fantastic support for our staff. He’s always there for us.”

After graduating from West, Manuel continued his sports career as a football player at Appalachian State University.

“At West he was a star athlete, a starting quarterback, he was a leader on the team,” Gerard said. “He had a fantastic work ethic, an all around great student. I remember him leading the team as quarterback in times of adversity when he never got down.”

Manuel and his wife Beth, have two children, Truitt, 8, and Sawyer, 4.

“I’m excited particularly about being back at West because it is my home school,” Manuel said. “I’m looking forward to a great school year around good people and good students. That’s what I came back for.”

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