BRISTOL – Peter Wininger, the principal of Bristol Central High School, won the national Principal of Principle Award at the Varsity Brand School Spirit Awards.
He was selected as one of four finalists to travel to Walt Disney World in Florida for the announcement of the winner on May 15.
The award honors the principal that understands the essential link between academics and athletics, encourages students inside and outside of the school and is innovative in their approach to education and encouragement.
Wininger met each of the other finalists during breakfast before the ceremony.
“They were all very very worth candidates of this honor,” Wininger said. “There’s a number of ideas that I picked up from our conversations with the other principals that struck a chord with me about things we might to here. Our goal is just every day to keep getting better.”
Among the examples of why Wininger earned this award are his annual pep rally, Festivus, that emphasizes that everyone in the school community is family, the Maroon and White scholarship he started for kids in need pursuing higher education and the Ram Locker, a mini closet store where kids who are in need can get anything, from shoes to prom dresses, that they need.
“A lot of what the newspapers have been reporting on is the Ram Locker… It’s more about what he does every day,” Lindsey DiPietro, a BCHS English teacher and drama director, said. “It’s who he is that he makes this school feel like a community. He is just one of those people who walks down the hall and he knows every kid in this school. He knows every first name. That daily presence he has is more powerful than some of the specific things he’s created.”
DiPietro also explained that from the first day of the school year, Wininger gives out his cell phone number to every kid in the school for if they ever need help, and nobody abuses that privilege.
“I’m not surprised that he won. I’m glad he’s being recognized for a lot of great things he’s done over the past few years,” DiPietro said. “I think it’s really important for Bristol to be in the news in a positive way, because that doesn’t seem to be happening much lately.”
As the winner of this award, Wininger received $3,000, which he said will be reinvested in the school, likely to aid in the annual Festivus celebration.
“This award is really a reflection of a lot of hard work by all the students and staff here. Each of them has a little piece of this award,” Wininger said.
Wininger was nominated by Gina Gallo, a foreign language teacher, and did not know anything about the nomination before the announcement of finalists last month.
This is the second annual Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards presented by Varsity Spirit, Herff Jones and BSN Sports to celebrate the very best of America’s high schools with 23 categories. Over $100,000 is awarded to honor students, staff and school organizations.