CBHS principal retires, still plans to be present in community

Collapsed lunch tables lined the cafeteria of Clay-Battelle’s freshly waxed floor in orderly aisles. The hum of fluorescent lighting buzzed ceaselessly and the expected routine of summer break and school maintenance began.

But for Principal David Cottrell, there was something in the air. Nostalgia. A melancholy.
It was his last day as Clay-Battelle’s principal.

Cottrell walked the hall, past the library, still hearing the echoes of laughter in the corridors.

A cacophony of musical instruments could be heard in the distance as he rounded his path past the art room and up the steps.

Passing by the trophy cases, he read the brick wall of memories and locked up the doors before heading out.

His wife, Marsha, said with all his years as an administrator, his love for the students will be a memory that sticks.

“[My favorite memory is] the compassion he had for the students. They are truly like his children,” she said. “He treated [all students] like they were his own.”

Cee-Bee Nation’s tight-knit community has never fallen short looking out for one another.

Cottrell said he has always made sure students, parents, faculty, staff and just simply anyone in the community can count on him.

Cottrell has set an example throughout his time at Clay-Battelle as an administrator, and he did it by taking inspiration from his own high school principal, Dennis Thomas, another who led CBHS.

Thomas was not only a presence in the community as an administrator but also as a friend.

Cottrell always aspired to emulate Thomas and others before him, to set an example not only for the kids but for all the folks who bleed blue and gray like he does.

“Clay-Battelle is a really special place, not just because I am from there,” Cottrell said. “We are a true community-oriented school and it’s a big part of the community. I was a small piece of history and I’m looking forward to the next person making their mark and being a part of Clay-Battelle history as well.”

Regardless of retirement, Cottrell said his heart will always be tied to the Cee-Bee Nation and he intends to remain involved.

A few other activities Cottrell is looking forward to include spending more time with his dad, taking his boat out, hunting and fishing.

His recipe for success remained the same throughout all of his years teaching, coaching and in administration: the students.

“It’s always about the kids. People may not always agree with the decisions you make all the time but when you make those decisions, you try to make them in the best interest in the majority of the kids,” Cottrell said.

And as for the class of 2025, Cottrell and his faculty and staff already have next year’s scheduling completed.

After 23 years of leading by example, he’s looking forward to seeing the next person take the helm.

“I’m just retiring, I’m not dying,” Cottrell said.

He is a part of five organizations, boards and other sectors in the region.

Cottrell is a member of Battelle District Fair Association, Clay-Battelle Community Health Center Board of Directors, the Clay-Battelle Public Service District, and a deacon and trustee at Blacksville Baptist Church.

He will also be the president of the Ohio Valley Athletics Conference — which includes 52 schools — and that is just one page in his next chapter.

The others include enjoying his family and the great outdoors.