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Dennis Haskins

May 4, 1998

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You might think that Dennis Haskins, who plays the ever amusing high school principal Mr. Belding on NBC's Saved by the Bell and its spinoff, Saved by the Bell: The New Class, would start to feel like a high school principal. Or that portraying a principal on television was almost the same thing as being one, but that's not true. "High school principals have a much different job than I do. They have to deal with drugs, violence, and all sorts of problems we don't deal with on the show. However, Mr. Belding loves his students, and always does the right thing, whether they like it or not, " Haskins remarked.

Even if the show doesn't deal with drugs and violence, it does deal with moral issues. Haskins continued, "We'll have somebody betray a friend and find out it's wrong, or tell a lie, but by the end of the show, they've realized their mistake and made up for it, somehow. It's a comedy, so we're not hitting you over the head with it. I like to say that we hit you with a feather, not a hammer." But, Haskins also mentioned that he does find himself giving more advice to friends these days.

What is particularly funny is that Haskins, the high school principal who always teaches valuable lessons, did teach - once. When a friend, a coach, had to leave town, he asked him to substitute teach his class - for a week. Haskins figured that with the lesson plan, it would be simple. Quickly he realized that he had to do more than just follow the lesson plan. "After the first day, I was really prepared, so I now understand what it is like to be an educator, " he laughed.

Being surrounded by mostly younger actors on the "Saved by the Bell" set taught him an important lesson: "That you are never too young to come up with a good idea!" he exclaimed. Strongly believing in youngsters 12, 13, and 14 years old, Haskins feels that they have many good and workable ideas, and should be taken seriously.


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