Barrons' enthusiasm starts from the top with school principal Warren

Barrons' enthusiasm starts from the top with school principal Warren

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Barrons' enthusiasm starts from the top with school principal Warren

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At Woodbridge High, school spirit starts at the top and trickles down to the faculty and students.

Lee Warren, the high school’s principal since 1996, attends as many sporting events and extracurricular activities as possible, setting a tone of contagious enthusiasm at Woodbridge that begins with one catch phrase.

Whether he’s walking the hallways or standing on the sidelines at a sporting event, the words “Go Barrons!” frequently tumble from the mouth of Warren, whose gravelly voice reminds one of Louis Armstrong.

“Mr. Warren is our No. 1 Barron,” said Joe Ward, the school’s athletics director. “He attends multiple athletic events, from bowling matches and cross country meets to basketball and football games. He is always positive and supportive of all our athletic teams and clubs.”

Warren, who was named New Jersey’s Principal of the Year in 2000-01, when the annual award was first presented to a Garden State administrator, said he doesn’t have to encourage faculty and staff to follow his lead, because they are willing participants in supporting Woodbridge students.

“It’s important to be a visible presence,” said Warren, a Plainfield native and member of that city’s high school Hall of Fame who now makes his home in Woodbridge township.

“The administration, the faculty – we are all family and we want to support all of our students, whatever their endeavors. We are there to let them know we care. As long as they see you, it does make a difference.”

Woodbridge was recently voted the high school with the most spirit in the Greater Middlesex Conference, according to a recent Home News Tribune readers’ poll.

Support for Woodbridge athletics was never more evident than during a regular-season football meeting earlier this year with crosstown rival Colonia, which edged the Barrons on a touchdown pass in the closing minute before an overflow crowd.

Warren could be found during the game at his usual spot around the 20-yard line standing alongside former Woodridge football coach Brian Russo and former Woodridge soccer coach Martin Scarano, who are both alums and current administrators at the high school.

The energy of the cheerleaders, marching band and student section helped elevate the game’s level of excitement.

“Our students are great,” Ward said. “They support each other. Our cheerleaders are wonderful in getting the students fired up during the game, along with our band. We do the alma mater at the end of the football game. It’s really nice.

The football players and cheerleaders are all together. It shows great school unity. I think it carries over to the school, the faculty and the staff. I think everybody really shows their school spirit.”

School spirit will take on a whole new meaning at Woodbridge on Friday as students and faculty will wear specially designed black and white “Barron Strong” T-shirts, which were sold at school with all proceeds benefitting township residents victimized by Hurricane Sandy.

Ward said he expects the initiative to surpass in popularity Red and Black Days, on which students and faculty are encouraged to wear school colors. The “Barron Strong” T-shirts have become as popular as the red Woodbridge “W” car magnets and stickers which help residents distinguish which township high schools students attend.

Woodbridge is one of only a handful of townships statewide that boasts three high schools. Colonia and J.F. Kennedy compete with the Barrons for township bragging rights.

Ward said having three high schools within the district creates a kaleidoscope of colors around town.

“When you are out in the community, whether it’s at the community center, the mall or the ballpark, you see people with Colonia, Kennedy and Woodbridge shirts,” he said. “It’s a unique situation where you almost want to make sure you’re wearing your school stuff so people know where you’re from.”

Those unable to distinguish between the clothing need only to listen to the sound of Warren’s voice to determine where his allegiance lies.

“He ends most speeches with ‘Go Barrons!’ ” Ward said. “The students and parents associate that quote with him. (Students) passing him in the hallway, or (parents) dropping off kids in the morning yell back, ‘Go Barrons!’

“His enthusiasm is definitely contagious.”

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