SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The Holy Savior Academy (HSA) community came together for a special school-wide ceremony to recognize, thank, and pay tribute to their retiring principal, Carol Woodburn. While Woodburn knew something was planned, just what the students and staff had up their sleeves was kept a secret until the afternoon of June 5.
Upon entering the school’s gymnasium, Woodburn was greeted by three of her grandchildren, Brianna Rennie, Matthew, and Christopher, and led to a seat of honor next to her husband, Ned. Woodburn’s daughter Jennifer Walusz, along with Pastor John Paul Alvarado and Rev. Pervaiz Indrias of Sacred Heart Church, past Board of Limited Jurisdiction members Tim Morgan and Neil Towey, and several HSA parents were also in attendance.
“We all know and love Mrs. Woodburn so much so this day is bittersweet for us,” Cindi Simmons, a fourth/fifth grade language arts teacher at HSA, said in her welcoming remarks. “We are so happy for her that she gets to ride off into the sunset and retire and we know she will be back to visit us and we just want to show how much we loved and appreciated having her here.”
Woodburn spent 30 years at Saint John Vianney School in Colonia and served as its principal from 2004 to 2014. In February 2015, following a brief retirement, she came to HSA at request of the Diocese of Metuchen and Board of Limited Jurisdiction. Back then, Woodburn was asked to take on the principal position on a ‘temporary basis.’ However, when the person she was filling in for did not return from maternity leave, Woodburn was asked to stay and, over the past four-plus years has called the pre-K through 8th grade Middlebrook Deanery Catholic School home.
“I truly believe that there is a ripple effect in all that that we do each and every day,” Woodburn told TAPinto South Plainfield during a recent interview. “What I do affects you and what you do affects me and, because we have interacted with each other, both of our lives have been changed forever – hopefully, in a positive way,”
Woodburn has also been quoted saying, ‘God has a plan and wherever God leads me is where I will go,’ and that message was not lost on the Holy Savior family. During last Wednesday’s ceremony, the retiring principal was presented with a wooden plaque bearing that sentiment.
During the hour-long ceremony, each grade paid tribute to Woodburn in a different way. There was a slideshow, handmade cards and gifts and musical performances as well as songs and poems, the lyrics and words in some revised to represent the students’ feelings for their retiring principal.
At the end of the ceremony, Woodburn was presented with a handmade quilt comprised of squares representing each grade at HSA as well as the staff and school’s extracurricular activities. According Simmons, the students gave up their recess whenever possible over the past four months to work on the quilt and have it completed in time for the June 5 assembly.
“What a wonderful gift all of the faculty, staff and students gave me as I leave HSA! Each class touched my heart with their love and affection through their heartfelt songs, poems, and dances,” Woodburn told TAPintofollowing the ceremony. “Even though I have only been here four short years, 'I have been forever changed for the better because I knew each of them.'
Woodburn’s last day will be June 28; her successor Theresa Pasqua, the current assistant principal at St. Thomas in Old Bridge, will officially take over as principal July 1.
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