Principal rules from the roof

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Kathy Chaffin
Instead of going through a fundraising organization and having students sell items to raise money this year, China Grove Middle School held its own “Invest in a Child” fundraiser.
Parents and community residents donated money directly to the school, raising about $22,700, according to Principal James V. Davis. School administrators initially set a goal of $10,000, Davis said, but the students were so excited they decided to raise the benchmark.
“If you were going to make it to $20,000,” he said to the students, “what would you want?” Some of the students suggested that Davis spend a whole day on the roof.
And last Friday, after students spent almost two weeks raising money, that’s exactly what he did.
“They allowed me one bathroom break,” he said. “They delivered my lunch to the roof. It was really funny. Whenever I got to go get water and go to the bathroom, the kids said, ‘You hurry straight there and straight back.’
“They didn’t grant me any leniency.”
Assistant Principal Jennifer Hancock said they borrowed the idea from Bostian Elementary, which had a similar fundraiser last year. “To be quite frank and honest, we were tired of sending kids out to sell things,” she said. “This was very low pressure for parents and students and teachers.”
Instead of students’ parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. having to buy everything “from cookie dough to wrapping paper to Christmas trinkets,” Hancock said, they just wrote out a check for $20 or $25. “We had several folks who wrote $100 checks, $500 checks.”
Students sold almost $20,000 worth of merchandise for last year’s fundraiser, she said, but the school only ended up with half of the money. “This way, we got to keep all the proceeds and invest all of that back into the school,” she said.
The “Invest in a Child” money will be used to purchase equipment offering interactive technology, including LCD projectors, Promethean Interactive Whiteboards, document cameras and Active Votes for students.
As with the previous fundraisers, students had chances to win special incentives such as ice cream socials, a week with uniforms and a trip on the school’s “Party Bus” to CiCi’s Pizza in Kannapolis. Hancock said 84 students raised enough money for the pizza outing, filling two buses decorated with balloons and streamers.
As the top fundraiser, seventh-grader Aaron Rouse won $500 in cash. Sixth-grader Evan Beaver came in second, receiving $300 in gift cards to various restaurants.
The names of all students who raised money were included in a drawing to see who would fill in as principal while Davis was on the roof, and Grayson Haff won.
“He carried a walkie-talkie all day,” Davis said. “He observed teachers. He was in the classrooms. He did bus duty …”
When he asked Haff how it was going midway through the day, Davis said the eighth-grader reported that everything was running smoothly. “He said he had given a couple of teachers the day off and that he had picked a couple of his friends to serve as his assistant principals. He has so much personality.”
Davis said he was blessed with good weather. Though the forecast called for rain, it didn’t start until 5:30 p.m.. “I had some kids chanting, ‘I hope it rains, I hope it rains,’ ” he said, “but it held off.”
Though the morning started off hot and muggy, Davis said it started cooling off a few hours later.
Hancock and Davis said they’ll probably do a similar fundraiser next year.
“I would say 70 percent of the students participated in some way or another,” Hancock said. “They loved it.”
Davis said he and the school staff tried to keep the students excited throughout the fundraiser by announcing, for example, which grade level had raised the most and keeping the competition going.
He and sixth-grade teacher Brittany Barnhardt, who helped with the fundraiser, surprised students when the first bell rang Friday by throwing water balloons at them. “Then we gave them water balloons and let them throw them up at us,” he said. “I think they won.”
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.