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Since his younger days in West Virginia to now, Sedona Red Rock High School Principal David Lykins has always been a leader of men, a man of great respect and principle, an educated man, a family man.

David Lykins was an  excellent athlete in high school and college years ago. The future  Sedona Red Rock High School principal goes for a rebound [No. 50] while  playing basketball at Ceredo-Kenova High School in West Virginia.Those qualities cannot be attributed to one specific reason, but a collection of experiences throughout the life of a man who used to come leaping out of a coffin carried by his teammates during game day to scare his opponents into submission.

Sedona Red Rock High School Principal Dave Lykins kicks  back at a staff party at the school May 26 after learning he was chosen  as Principal of the Year by the Arizona School Administrators  Association.It’s thrilling to find out about a man’s greatest stories, tales and life lessons learned and Lykins is no different.

A graduate of Ceredo-Kenova High School, Lykins received a full ride to attend West Virginia University and play football for the Mountaineers.

An all-everything athlete in high school, Lykins was a four-year letter winner in just about every sport including football, basketball, baseball and track and field.

Lykins was a big part of his high school’s three state football championships and was nominated to the All-South All-Star team as a senior.

After a year at West Virginia, Lykins decided to get married and the couple had a son, David Jr., making his decision easy to transfer to West Virginia Tech, from which he eventually graduated in 1986 with a health education and driver’s education degree.

Yes, that’s right, driver’s education.

“In the South and on the East Coast this is how they were able to create jobs for coaches. They had a cake schedule and coached,” Lykins said while laughing behind the desk he sits at every day at SRRHS.

David Lykins graduated in 1981 from Ceredo-Kenova High School, where he played basketball, and graduated in 1986 from West Virginia University Institute of Technology, where he played football.Before graduation, however, Lykins took a year to follow his dream before doing his student teaching and attended a Detroit Lions training camp in 1985.

Lykins was signed as a free agent and made several cuts at training camp before injuring his back, and finally being released.

“I had guard speed but tackle size. I was in the middle and it would have taken being in the right place at the right time kind of deal to make the team,” Lykins said.

For many athletes, this would have signaled the end of life as they knew it, but for Lykins, his will to succeed and education background gave him something to fall back on.

After football, Lykins took a job at Boca Raton Community High School in Florida as the physical education and health teacher, and coached football for the Bobcats in the fall of 1986.

Over the next eight years, Lykins made his moves through education to move up in athletics.

Wearing number 76,  Lykins poses for a team picture during his football playing days in  college.“I would be an offensive line coach, then take a job as an offensive coordinator somewhere, then be a head coach at a smaller school,” Lykins said.

Eventually, Lykins wound up the assistant principal for a school in Florida called Olympic Heights High School in 1995 before his life took an unexpected turn.

Lykins’ wife was diagnosed with metastasized bone cancer and wasn’t given long to live.

The Lykins family sought out every viable treatment option, but in the end, things weren’t working out.

Lykins decided to move to Sedona, where he was looking for alternative healing.

“From then on I was her life coach. I wanted to make the best of her time remaining and we moved for alternative healing purposes,” Lykins said.

She passed away in May 2001 but before then, Lykins made another decision which was to begin work for SRRHS as the director of Juniper Canyon in 1999, an alternative school program.

Lykins said the move was important to him to help make him feel successful so he could have the strength to help his wife during her transition.

Who knew that this move would not only help his family, but help the lives of hundreds of kids that have come and gone within the school district in Sedona.

Almost 12 years later, Lykins sits behind the principal’s desk at SRRHS as one of the most successful principals to ever walk the halls.

Lykins was named assistant principal in the fall of 2000 and in 2007 was named the man in charge.

He told Nancy Alexander, the superintendent at the time of his hiring in 1999, he would come back with a plan after his initial interview. It seems Lykins’ plan as principal has worked out quite nicely.

“People may think I’m biased but I think there is no comparison from our school to any other I’ve worked at. In Arizona we have the lowest funding ratios per student in the nation. The economy is lined up against us but yet we succeed,” Lykins said proudly.

In his time, SRRHS has won the University Cup, an award for the highest GPA of students attending a major university such as the University of Arizona and Arizona State University coming in as freshmen.

SRRHS won the Lead and Inspire Award from ASU for fostering rigorous coursework and demonstrating academic achievement in every school program, the school safety award and to top them all, Lykins won the Arizona Principal of the Year award just a few months ago.

“It’s a team effort. The facilities, the nurturing to help the kids, our support staff and administration all provide an overall education experience. These recent awards speak to the good things that go on here at Red Rock,” Lykins said.

Lykins attributes his way of life to the lessons learned while playing athletics and says that the classroom isn’t any different than the playing field.

“The things that athletics did for me personally taught me hard work, loyalty to my teammates, working as a team, focused on the same goal. That’s pretty similar to the role as a principal now,” Lykins said.

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  • Rick P Sperry

    I have had the honor to participate on the SRRHS Site Council the last two school years. You can see how Dave cares for these students and the pride he takes in this high school. I hope the young people who attend SRRHS and their parents, understand how lucky they are to have Mr. Lykins for their principal. He knows what is necessary to run a smooth sailing ship through our current troubled economic waters. He does this while maintaining and improving the quality of education with limited resources through creative and supportive leadership.

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