Bristol principal wins national award for dedication to students and staff

BRISTOL, Conn. (WTNH) -- Principal Peter Wininger, who simply likes to go by the name Pete, is described as the "heart beat" of Bristol Central High School.

"I've always tried to create a space, a community where you would want your children to go and be successful, safe and looked after," Wininger tells News 8.

His devotion to the school doesn't go unnoticed. He launched the Ram Locker, where students in need can shop for clothes, free of charge. He also started a holiday-themed pep rally known as a festivus. People at the school tell News 8, Wininger puts his students and staff first -- making sure everyone succeeds. Wininger has been the principal of Bristol Central for the last seven years.

"Somebody who embodies school spirit, making a connection to kids, pretty much dedicating their whole life to the school," said Gina Gallo, an Italian teacher at BCHS. Gallo, along with several colleagues, nominated Wininger for the Varsity Brands "Principal of Principle" Award. Varsity Brands recognizes schools across the country for their hard work and dedication. The principal award had submissions from more than 400 schools across the country.

"I just told all the great things that he does," said Gallo. "How he supports the kids, what type of person he is and we were particular to write that it can't be defined in 500 words."

In March, Wininger was named a finalist for the principal award. It came as a surprise, since he had no idea some of his staff members nominated him.

"It was pretty exciting to call everybody and say you will never believe this, well you will believe it, but we've made it to the finals," says Gallo.

The school held a pep rally in Principal Wininger's honor. On May 12th, Wininger was flown down to Orlando, Florida for the Varsity Brands award ceremony, which was quite the production. Despite all the competition, Wininger was named the big winner.

"Obviously I was sitting next to my wife, who shared this entire process with me. It was equally emotional, amazing and humbling," said Wininger. "It was just a really neat experience."

Wininger wasn't able to tell everyone at BCHS about his win right away -- he had to wait a few days. When everyone did find out, there was a great deal of excitement. But Wininger will tell you, this award represents everyone at the school -- not just him.

"I never dreamed that I would be in a position to be honored for something like that. But it's truly a reflection of all the great work everybody in this building does."

Students and staff say the award is well-deserved, and also helps shine a light on all the good that's being done at Bristol Central High School.

"I think it speaks volumes to the type of education we offer here and it reminds everybody of all the good things happening in education and I think we sometimes tend to forget."


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