If you ask someone who went to Cochranton High School in 1981 who their principal was, they would tell you Mr. Wigton. If you ask someone who goes to Cochranton High now in 2024 who their principal is, they will tell you Mr. Wigton.  Really? 

I traveled to Cochranton and met Donald Wigton, Sr.  He served as principal of Cochranton High School from 1981 to 1998.  I also met Donald Wigton, Jr..  He has served as principal of Cochranton High School from 1998 to the present. That's right, there has been a Wigton serving as principal at the school for 43 straight years.

"When my father went to retire, they moved me from the Assistant Principal at Meadville into his position,” says Don Jr.   “So it was seamless.  We went from one Wigton to the next Wigton.”

What an amazing legacy the Wigton family has created at Cochranton High. However, when Don Sr. was serving as principal, he never thought that his son, who was a fine student and athlete at Cochranton, would ever follow in his footsteps.

"Did not think about that, no,” says Don Sr.  “But, I'm surprised and glad.  He's done a good job.  Very good job."

As a student at Cochranton High, Don Jr. felt the same pressure as any other student.  He tried not to get on the wrong side of the principal.

"We used to know the sound of his shoes.  So, if we did get in trouble and we were out in the hallway, we knew when he was coming.  So you went the other way,” remembers Don Jr. about his father.    

But, what about the pressure of taking over as the head man at the school. Sitting in the same office, in the same chair, as your father did.

"I just took the approach that I'm not going to come in here and rock the boat, make a bunch of changes,” says Don Jr.  “Whatever dad's done for 17 years, if it worked, it works.  So let's just come in and not rock the boat." 

Things have changed over the years for any principal, especially student discipline. Don Sr. says yes, there were times he used a paddle.

"At the very beginning yes.  A necessary thing. I'm surprised every time I go to a class reunion how the kids always bring that up and said they deserved it,” remembers Don Sr. 

One other thing about the Wigton legacy.  It was not just Donald Jr. who went into education.  His sister Susie is a teacher at…You guessed it…Cochranton High School!  There are five Wigton grandchildren.  None of them pursued a career in education. So, the string of years that a Wigton has served as principal will come to an end when Don Jr. retires next year.