Whether it’s participating in the school play or partaking in the senior prank, Shadow Ridge High School principal Travis Warnick knows the importance of engaging with his students.
To celebrate his lively ways, the 45-year-old was nominated and selected as a finalist for Varsity Brands’ 2016 School Spirit Awards Principal of Principle award, which highlights the connection between school spirit, involvement, achievement and self-confidence.
“I just try to make school a kid-first place where every kid is safe and has a voice,” Warnick said. “I’ve always felt that kids have a lot more to offer than the system gives them a chance to offer. They’ve always been told to sit down, shut up and learn. I believe that they need to have a voice on what’s going on and a place to shine and excel.”
Although he did not win the award, Warnick received a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., to celebrate his accomplishments, service and dedication to the school.
“It’s unbelievable and overwhelming to be honored as a finalist,” Warnick said. “I know my staff and teachers do all of the heavy lifting.”
Assistant principal Missy Shipp credits Warnick’s involvement in raising school spirit.
“He’s such an outgoing and amazing person,” Shipp said. “He’s the most spirited person that I’ve encountered in my entire career. He shows up to as many school events as he can to support all of the kids. It’s refreshing to see someone with that mindset who is such a good role model.”
Shipp said Warnick is also on top of social media and uses it to connect with students and promote their events while highlighting their achievements.
“I originally nominated Travis for this award because when our cheer team went to nationals, he helped us pay for our whole trip and brought us brand new uniforms,” said Kristen Fisher, cheerleading coach at the high school. “He’s one of the few principals that knows most of the students by name.”
Prior to becoming the principal at Shadow Ridge, Warnick worked as a principal at Brinley Middle School and as assistant principal at Arbor View High School. He was also a dean at Sierra Vista High School and worked as a teacher at Rancho High School.
Last year, Warnick participated in the senior prank by opening the doors to the school for seniors to put a petting zoo inside the school’s courtyard. He also played Frankenstein’s monster in the play “Young Frankenstein” and wore 8-inch platform shoes and performed a tap dance.
“I’m just trying to understand what (the students) are going through to understand what their world is like,” Warnick said. “That helps me understand how to build a better school for them. I’m always in for anything.”
His next endeavor is to create a program called the Shadow Ridge Xperience, which is set to revolutionize the idea of public high school education, according to Warnick. To help fund the project, the school is a finalist for the XQ: The Super School Project, a $50 million campaign to conceive and create the next American high school — or a “Super School,” led by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs.
Shadow Ridge is scheduled to find out if it won Aug. 1.
“Without going into too much details, I can tell you that students will have the ability to focus on a chosen interest and apply their educational endeavors toward that career path,” Warnick said. “We will completely rebuild and reinvent the high school experience and go deeper into what students are interested in. They will be tasked with solving real world problems. It’ll be very much like a college setting.”
Whether the school is chosen for the grant or not, Warnick said the program will be implemented in the coming school year with the help of the community.
“I really don’t have many challenges here,” Warnick said. “I love my job, and I have a blast every day that I go to work. Dealing with 3,000 teens is always a challenge, but it’s fun because the kids have a ton of energy and creativity. There’s nothing like seeing an individual succeed.”
To reach North View reporter Sandy Lopez, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.