Hurley Elementary students raise money for solar panels, even if Ruby won’t kiss and tell

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 28, 2019

By Mark Wineka

SALISBURY — Ruby, don’t take your love to town.

Things did not go exactly as planned Friday afternoon at Hurley Elementary School. In front of the entire student body, behavior technician Dominic Gillion was supposed to plant a kiss on Ruby, a 21/2-year-old Hereford-Angus mix.

It was Gillion’s reward for his “Penny Wars” jar at school having raised the most money over the past two weeks to help pay for solar panels for Hurley.

But as kids on the hill rhythmically chanted, “Kiss-the-cow, Kiss-the-cow,” Ruby refused to cooperate.

Owner Morgan Mosher had practiced with Ruby back at his Lucky Eleven Farm by holding pieces of bread in his mouth and having her kiss him as she took the bread.

At the school, Gillion tried the same approach and almost was bussed, but overall Ruby was too distracted by all that was happening around her.

Adding to the frenzy, Gillion was dressed in one of those cow suits you might see at Chick-fil-A, and the restaurant’s mascot also was on hand entertaining students.

After a lot of patience and repeated attempts with and without bread, Gillion had to give up. It was time for the kids to go home.

“Ruby is overwhelmed,” Hurley Principal Ryan Disseler told the teachers and students. “We’ll have to go with Plan B.”

The alternate plan was to take a video later of Gillion kissing the cow in a much quieter setting.

Cow-kissing aside, it proved to be a successful day at Hurley Elementary. Through their cash contributions into jars over two weeks, the students had raised close to $600 toward installing solar panels at the school through NC GreenPower.

NC GreenPower’s Solar Schools program provides matching grants for solar education projects. The solar panels also come with a weather station, real-time monitoring students can access, a curriculum from and training for teachers.

Any K-12 school in North Carolina may apply for a 50% matching grant, as much as $10,000, and NC GreenPower will assist the school to raise the balance of money required.

In Hurley Elementary’s case, NC GreenPower is partnering with the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation, which is offering $15,000 as part of a matching challenge grant that would provide a bigger 5 kW system with 12 solar panels.

Disseler said Hurley’s part of the match, which will be added to the SECU contribution, is $7,900.

“The Penny Wars obviously was a small chunk,” Disseler said, but whatever the student body raises will be combined with money the school has available from Rowan-Salisbury Schools “renewal” initiative.

The Penny Wars set up a competition among five Hurley Elementary staff members — Disseler, Gillion, an assistant principal, art teacher and physical education teacher.

Each of their jars carried his or her picture on it, and the winner — the person with the most money in a jar — would get to kiss a cow in front of the whole school.

Disseler acknowledged it was a “win-lose situation.” Win the competition, but lose because it means you kiss a cow — in front of a lot of people.

Before the cow-kissing attempt, students held a pep rally in the gymnasium as a way to get them ready for benchmark testing, which will be administered in early October.

Morgan Mosher, who brought Ruby by trailer to the school, is the husband of Hurley reading coach Jessica Mosher. Morgan contemplated bringing Henry, a bull calf at Lucky Eleven Farm, but he was being a bit ornery.

Why bring Ruby?

“She was the easiest one to get on the trailer,” he said.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.