CCHS News Room

17 July 2014

Bandi Named First President of Wheeling Central Catholic High School

A member of the Class of 1972 returns to his alma mater amidst growth
in enrollment, educational technology and finance

WHEELING, W.Va. – A corporate, civic and educational leader will be returning to his high school, seeking to expand recent success and maintain historic traditions.

Lawrence E. Bandi of Wheeling has been appointed the first president of Wheeling Central Catholic High School (Wheeling Central), according to the Most Reverend Michael J. Bransfield, Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Mr. Vincent de Paul Schmidt, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, made this historic announcement at a press conference at Wheeling Central on April 3. Bandi will assume his duties on July 1.

Bandi’s appointment completes the school’s transition to a president-principal model. Rebecca Sancomb was introduced as Wheeling Central’s principal in May 2013, at which time the school announced that it would begin a search for a president during the 2013-14 academic year. Bandi and Sancomb together make a dynamic leadership team for the high school.

Bandi has deep roots at Wheeling Central and in the Catholic community, particularly in Catholic schools. He is a life-long parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Wheeling, where he attended grade school before graduating from Wheeling Central in 1972.   Bandi completed an associate’s degree in accounting in 1974 from West Virginia Northern Community College (WVNCC) and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree (1985) and Master’s degree in Business Administration (1993) from Wheeling Jesuit University. He is also past president of the Serra Club of Wheeling. Bandi received the Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross, the highest medal that can be awarded by the Pope, recognizing those priests, religious or lay Catholics who have advanced the life and mission of the Church.

“I am delighted that Larry Bandi has joined Wheeling Central,” said Bishop Bransfield. “His love for Catholic education and his alma mater runs deep, and I am confident he will bring this same energy to our staff, faculty, students and families that he has to his other successful business, civic and philanthropic ventures.

“I know that, alongside the excellent leadership provided by Mrs. Rebecca Sancomb, Larry will help advance Central’s mission as an outstanding leader in Catholic education and make it even more of a vital resource for our students, our parish communities and the Ohio Valley,” Bransfield continued.

Bandi said that he was humbled and honored to be selected as the first president of Wheeling Central. “I am excited to build upon the firm foundation and strong tradition at Central, and I cannot wait to begin working with the principal, staff and faculty as we work together to lead our school to new levels of excellence.”

Bandi began his business career in 1974 at Valley Welding in the accounting department. While working at Valley for 26 years, he advanced career positions to serve as comptroller, vice president and finally President and CEO. He was instrumental in taking the company, which was later named Valley National Gases, public in 1998 and one year later, Bandi was honored to ring the opening bell at the American Stock Exchange.

In 2003, Bandi assumed the position of CFO/Vice President of Administration at WVNCC. During his tenure at the community college, Bandi spearheaded the development of College Square and the addition of the education building, the sale of the Hazel Atlas Building, and the preliminary concept development of the Barnes and Noble store.

In May 2009, Bandi joined the Hampton Inn in Wheeling as CFO/Vice President. He had oversight of the development of the $2.1 million aquatic center at the hotel. Along with the Hampton Inn team, the hotel was recognized with the coveted “Connie Award” for being the top ranked and rated Hampton Inn in the world for 2013.

Bandi was a charter member of the Ohio County Development Authority and was on the Board of REDP. He has served on the boards of Wheeling Hospital and the WVNCC Board of Governors, was the board president of Family Services of the Upper Ohio Valley, and Bandi has been a member of the board of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley, where he served as president from 2005-2007. He currently sits on the boards of Catholic Charities West Virginia, the Special Wish Foundation, the Welty Corporation, the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation. A recipient of two Project BEST awards, Bandi was also honored in 2007 as a Distinguished Alumnus of Wheeling Jesuit University and was recognized by WVNCC in 2009 for exceptional leadership, commitment and service. He is a Paul Harris Fellow of the Wheeling Rotary Club.

At Wheeling Central, the president’s responsibilities will include strategic planning; advancing the mission of the school through development, marketing and enrollment initiatives; and maintaining the financial strength of the school, which experienced increased enrollment and development income in addition to significant growth in endowment reserves. The president and principal will work closely with the leadership of local Catholic feeder schools and parishes in the Wheeling area.

“Because Larry Bandi is so well connected to this community, I believe his passion for Catholic education will immediately propel our vision for Wheeling Central,” said Vincent de Paul Schmidt, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. “I also know he is looking forward to collaborating with Becky Sancomb to keep improving the education and formation we provide to our students and to continue this year’s outstanding growth in enrollment, technology, academic achievement and development income. These are great days for Wheeling Central, and the future is even more exciting.”

“I think Wheeling Central has made an excellent choice in Larry Bandi as president,” said Robert P. Fitzsimmons, senior partner of the Fitzsimmons Law Firm, PLLC, in Wheeling and a Wheeling Central graduate of the Class of 1970. “His lifelong dedication to Catholic education, success in educational administration and civic leadership, and unparalleled experience in the business sector will serve him well.”

“Wheeling Central will continue to grow and be successful with Larry Bandi as president,” said Robert Contraguerro, Sr., President of Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration and a Wheeling Central graduate of the Class of 1977. “I am confident that Larry will receive and maintain the respect of parents, students, faculty, staff and all our parish communities. I am excited for CCHS as they embark on this new chapter in continuing the mission of educating our youth.”

Bandi and his wife, Mary Dee Bandi, are residents of Wheeling and have two adult daughters, Erin Carr and Kristina Bandi, and are proud grandparents of Georgia and Charleigh.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Bryan Minor, Diocesan Spokesman, at 304-639-8713 or