When the Hesperia High class of 2008 graduates this May, they won't be the only ones saying good-bye to their school: Principal Larry Porras will be making his farewell as well.

But he'll be keeping busy: Porras has been named the principal for Oak Hills High School, set to open in August 2009. He was the first to tell his students -- not wanting them to read about it first in the newspaper -- Wednesday morning, over the school's public address system.

"Oh, boy, it's been incredible," Porras said Wednesday of the response since then. "Messages, e-mails, texts."

Porras has worked as an administrator at Hesperia High for 15 years, the last 6 as the school's principal. He said he's not unhappy at the school, but couldn't pass up the chance to be the first principal at Oak Hills.

"The opportunity to open up a brand-new comprehensive high school doesn't come up very often," he said. "It's only happened once since I've been [in the Hesperia Unified School District] and that's been 20 years.

"People I've talked to that have opened a new facility have said what an exhilarating feeling it is. You're starting traditions, you're creating a new feel for school."

Porras has had a hand in hiring nearly everyone at Hesperia High, but it's been done piecemeal, a few (or not so few) teachers and staff each year.

"We are eternally playing catch-up," he said. "But with a new school, you can start with everyone on the same page, step one, page one, all together."

When the 2009-2010 school year begins, and when some former Hesperia High students now find themselves among the first to attend Oak Hills, it may have a familiar feeling for them.

"I don't want to do anything different; I think we've got a winning formula here," Porras said.

And part of that familiarity includes moving over some current Hesperia High teachers and staff, although Porras said he wants to be careful not to gut his old school as a result.

But in many ways, Oak Hills will be starting fresh, including a brand-new mascot and set of school colors.

When Sultana High School opened, "they surveyed the students that would be attending the school. They surveyed them on a choice of mascots and colors," Porras said. "I can tell you one it's not going to be, the Fighting Acorns."

But first, Porras has to say good-bye to the Hesperia High School Scorpions.

"For this graduation next month, it's going to be very, very emotional for me. I love these kids," Porras said. "It's sad when you stop and think about it. I've been here for thousands of kids coming through here.

"One kid even said, 'hey, Mr. Porras, they should give you a diploma as well. You're graduating with us.'"

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.