Saheed

Chris Saheed, principal of Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, is retiring, it was announced Monday at a School Committee meeting.

Saheed was appointed principal Dec. 22, 2006, after more than three decades in the Cambridge school system — and one year as interim principal — and called the appointment “the fulfillment of a professional dream.”

His appointment came after a dozen candidates from around the country were interviewed by a 30-member committee. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from Tufts University, a law degree from Suffolk University Law School, a master’s degree in education administration from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, and an advanced degree from Harvard in administration, planning and social policy, according to the district’s website.

The 1,600-student school — the city’s only public high school — is nearing the end of a massive, $100 million reconstruction, only one change Saheed saw through. In addition to the logistics of moving classes and even commencement ceremonies, he oversaw the creation of a popular, if temporary, ninth-grade academy. Last year the school has called one of the top 20 public high schools in Massachusetts by Boston magazine, which looked at MCAS scores, SAT scores, per pupil spending, student to teacher ratio, graduation rate, the percent of students who continue into college and extracurriculars such as sports teams and clubs. The arts program at the school has been particularly lauded.

Damon Smith, dean of the high school’s history department, will be interim principal.

“Smith is widely regarded by CRLS students as one of the school’s most well liked and popular faculty members,” student Henry Regan writes in the latest issue of the school’s newspaper, The Register Forum.

Smith is credited with energizing his department with new ideas, Regan said.

When the retirement announcement was made — by a student representative to the committee —  Saheed drew sustained, standing applause.