In spring 2004, Osbourn High School Principal Perry B. Pope had a problem on his hands: "Unruly" students had "taken over the halls" of the Manassas school, according to Assistant Principal John J. Conti. The students showed up late for classes, or did not show up at all. Insubordination reigned as the students verbally abused and threatened staff members.

"Virtually overnight, Dr. Pope developed a plan to deal with the situation and presented it to the faculty the next day," Conti said in a letter of support for Pope. "The key to the plan was an intensive hall supervision schedule employing faculty members. There was no discussion. . . . No ifs, ands, or buts. It worked!"

Pope, who has been principal of Osbourn since 2002, was named the Manassas school system's winner of the 2005 Distinguished Educational Leadership Awards given by The Washington Post.

Despite a highly publicized incident this fall in which eight students were suspended for engaging in or watching sexual activity inside the auditorium, Conti said the halls of Osbourn are more orderly now.

When Pope arrived in 2002, he helped resuscitate the Student Council Association, which was in a "state of severe erosion," Conti wrote in his nomination letter.

Pope is also known for his support of school staff members and for boosting morale. For example, Conti said, Pope helped the science department secure a $6,500 grant from the state to help students learn about watersheds, and he gave teachers ample time to attend the necessary training.

Parents are also supportive of the veteran educator, who began his career in 1960 as a teacher in Houston, according to his resume.

"Dr. Pope encourages and welcomes parent volunteers. . . . The life of an administrator involves many nighttime commitments, time spent away from their own families," wrote Christine Spratley, president of the school's Parent Teacher Student Association. "Dr. Pope attends all monthly PTSA meetings and is very supportive of our goals."

Pope was unavailable for comment.