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Varnado principal stepping down Friday

After 39 years in education, including the last four years as principal at Varnado High School, Randy Branch is calling it a career.

His final official day is Friday.

“I loved being at Varnado High School,” the 60-year-old Branch said. “It was great being at Varnado. It was the best four years of all. The kids didn’t want me to leave. Watching them walk across that stage and get that diploma — especially those troubled kids, the ones who have a tendency for getting into trouble. When they finally get that diploma, there’s nothing like it. It was like winning the Super Bowl.”

Branch said frustration with state testing and demands from above led to his decision to retire.

“I had been thinking about retiring for quite some time,” Branch said. “I almost resigned at the beginning of this school year. It’s all the red tape and bureaucracy from state and district levels with all this school stuff. Everything depends on passing the test. It’s getting harder all the time.”

Branch credited his staff and students for making the position enjoyable.

“I have a great staff at Varnado. I love the kids at Varnado High School. It’s a low socio-economic area. But it’s all about school performance scores. I just tired of fighting the fight. Everything depends on test scores. It’s kind of aggravating all the bureaucracy and mandates from the state. I just got fed up with all the bull crap, but I love the kids and my staff.”

Washington Parish School Superintendent Darrell Fairburn said Branch was a sound administrator.

“He’s been a good principal,” Fairburn said. “He cares about his students and the students care about him. He enjoyed working with his teachers. He’s been around for a long time. I can’t speak on the reason for his resignation, but it was a personal thing for him.”

Branch said he could go to Mississippi and pursue teaching again but he definitely will take some time to enjoy his family. He has two children and three grandchildren with another on the way.

Branch lives in the Hilltop Community between Pine and Varnado. He said he will attend the Christmas activities at VHS on Friday.

He has been a principal since 2001. After Angie Junior High closed, he moved to Varnado in 2010.

“I plan on enjoying my grandchildren for the time being,” Branch said. “I’m going to hunt, fish and enjoy my grandchildren.”