Meet Apex Friendship High School Principal Matt Wight

Principal Matt Wight congratulates graduating class of 2020 in front of wall featuring all the names of the senior class at Apex Friendship High School. Photo contributed by Matt Wight.

Principal Matt Wight is no stranger to Apex high schools. As former principal of Apex High School for nine years and founding principal of Apex Friendship High School, he knows the area and he knows the students. He does the morning announcements, and he’s a VIP at band performances and athletic matches.

“When we opened, one of the things that we stressed was the idea of being a supportive school, and being a school that valued relationships,” said Wight.

Amber Keister, senior editor of Cary Magazine, and Heather Taylor Petrovich, with Peak City Podcast, recently spoke with Matt Wight about Apex Friendship, its story, and his passion for helping students find success.

H: Share with us a little bit about Apex Friendship High and how it came to be called Apex Friendship.

M: Originally the name was going to be West Apex, but this area called Friendship, which is an unincorporated area down where the school is located, came together, and solicited the Board of Education about changing the name of the school to include Friendship to help recognize their community.

The community has an interesting background. After the Civil War, freed slaves, Native Americans and some Quakers, who lived in the area, decided that they would live together in harmony. They would live together in friendship. And so that became the name of that unincorporated area, and that area has lived on. There are still several families who live close to the school who’ve lived there since the Civil War.

H: I know there was some pushback about the name not sounding competitive enough.

M: Some of my high school buddies gave me a hard time, saying that it was not the most intimidating name. But as I’ve said now to six different orientations of freshmen, as a high school principal, I can’t think of a more appropriate name than Friendship — a place where you want to develop relationships and be supportive of kids and have kids be comfortable. That’s the way we’ve painted it, and I think it’s a wonderful tribute to the area.

In fact, we are soon going to dedicate a historical marker to the original Friendship School, which was a school that was established for African Americans in 1923 that still sits about a quarter of a mile from our campus. That’s pretty important to tie the present school to the legacy of the area of Friendship, and to that Friendship School.

A: The high schools in this area are huge. How do you get to know all the students?

M: We’ve averaged about 600 graduates every year for nine years, so I would never pretend to say that I know every student. There are a couple things that I’ve done. One is that I’ve made it a point to be visible. Whether it’s doing carpool or going to chorus concerts, band concerts or athletic events, I’ve tried to really be visible and get to know a lot of the kids.

The other thing is, and this is a little bit old school, but both at Apex High and at Friendship, I do the morning announcements. Over the years I’ve developed kind of a tag phrase, and that is, “Make it a great day.”

A: Talk about some of the programs at Apex Friendship for kids who may not be on the college track but may lean more towards something like culinary arts or CTE.

M: The district and CTE are moving toward more technology-based courses. We have an academy that’s engineering and advanced manufacturing. We have a lot of programs that really look toward technology, but fewer that are hands on. That’s based on what the district hears from the job market. With Apple coming in, the number of IT and engineering technology positions is crazy.

Principal Wight with former Apex grad and current Princeton student Ivy Jones. Photo contributed by Matt Wight.

H: Equity, diversity, and inclusion are hot topics today. Are you addressing that at the school?

M: Absolutely. The biggest thing in high school that determines your path is the courses you choose. We’re educating the middle school counselors on what courses to recommend and we’re looking at the incoming students. If we see minority students who are at the level prerequisites and haven’t chosen honors courses, we move them into honors courses. We’ve had some outstanding minority students come through. In fact, when President Biden was here, he was introduced by an Apex grad named Ivy Jones, who is now at Princeton.

Listen to the full interview on Peak City Podcast! Peak City Podcast is your resource for everything Apex. Building bridges in the community to support a strong, vibrant and engaged community! Listen to this and other episodes at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *