AHS Athletic Boosters
Former AHS principal James Finch died Feb. 18 at an assisted living facility in Hendersonville, N.C. He was 92 and suffered from a variety of ailments.
Finch first came to AHS as a teacher in 1957 and became an assistant principal in 1960. He was promoted to principal of AHS in 1966 and later retired in 1986. Finch was also a member of the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce.
He was a part of the Annandale community for 30 years and graduated about 8,000 students.
“I watched my dad do his job all those years. I marveled at his serious commitment to promote and prepare young people for life. It was evident that his love for kids went way beyond his own two daughters,” Finch’s daughter, Dana Conlon, wrote in a Facebook post.
Time and time again, Finch would hire former students as teachers, coaches and support staff. He always believed in the saying, “Once an Atom, always an Atom!”
While teaching at AHS, he also coached many sports and in 2018, Finch was inducted into the Annandale Athletic Boosters Hall of Fame.
The Annandale PTSA even named an award after him. The James Finch Service and Leadership Scholarship is awarded to one student every year who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, school spirit and community service.
“His heart was so big. He wanted all of us to be our best selves. He wanted us to serve; to be givers and not takers. He wanted us to be kind and do the right thing. He wanted us to give back to our community and country,” Conlon wrote.
Finch was the second principal of AHS and never stopped loving the school.
In an interview for the Oral History of the Principalship conducted by Virginia Tech in 1987, Finch spoke on his time at AHS.
“I believe that being a good leader is so important. I believe that a good leader is a catalyst. I use that word so many times because he or she has got to be enthused about what is going on. you can never lose that spark of enthusiasm because, when you do, other people around you, those people that you are trying to lead, the faculty and so forth, pick up on it very quickly,” Finch said, when asked about his personal leadership philosophy.
Finch believed that the Annandale community was what made AHS great. He continued to wear red and white Atoms hats and sweaters even after he retired.