Abraham Mallinson Elementary School principal Sarah Brown could hear the chanting from students.
They were at an assembly last Friday, awaiting Brown’s arrival. The principal was being interviewed in the main office by Independence School District public relations specialist Morgan Stoyanov. She could hear the chanting that was coming from the gym, which was about 100 yards away from the main office.
“Kiss the pig! Kiss the pig!” the students chanted.
Brown set a goal for the school to raise $750 for the United Way of Greater Kansas City. In exchange, Brown was outfitted in a yellow cape with a pig emblazoned on it as she kissed a potbelly pig. The school far exceeded it goal by raising more than $1,000, setting up Brown’s date with Eloise.
“One of my teachers had a potbelly pig and got to smooch Eloise five times,” Brown said. “The kids were super excited, and I wanted to get them excited for caring for other people. Eloise was a good pig.”
Mallinson Elementary student Emma McFaddin was one of many students enjoying the show.
“It was funny,” McFaddin said. “Everyone was screaming and laughing. And they were like, ‘Do it again! Do it again!’
“(Before the assembly) that’s all we could think about.”
That’s just one example of the creative ways that schools in the Independence School District raised money for the cause. The district raised more than $30,000 for the United Way last week, something that has become an annual tradition.
“I figured with the incentive, we would at least meet our goal,” Brown said. “But hitting the over $1,000 mark was incredibly exciting. We got on the intercom Friday, the day I was supposed to kiss the pig, and we let everyone know that we met our goal.”
“You could hear the entire school erupt with excitement. When we made that announcement, it was pretty cool. They went above and beyond what I expected.”
During each day last week, teachers at Mallinson had their students bring in change to donate. Starting with pennies Monday, nickels Tuesday, and so on.
‘We’ve raised money before, but this was the first time it was tied to this big event,” Brown said. “It was the most money as a building that we’ve raised. We raised about $400 to 500 before, so we doubled that.”
Other schools came up with their incentives. Students at Sycamore Hills Elementary School used 12-inch pieces of duct tape, which could be purchased for $1 apiece, to tape principal Amber Miller to a wall. The school raised more than $600.
Luff Elementary School sold raffle tickets for a chance to throw a pie at their teachers and principal Melissa Carver. It raised more than $800.
And Thomas Hart Benton Elementary School organized a change challenge, raising more than $800. Students challenged teachers and principal Leslie Hochsprung to participate in karaoke and dancing. Students also got to throw a pie into their teachers’ faces.
Students voted on which faculty members they wanted to be a part of the challenge. Once the votes were tallied, there were buckets with the faculty members’ faces on them, and students put in change. The change had to exceed a line drawn on the bucket. If the total change piled over the line, that faculty member had to participate in karaoke or dancing or getting pied in the face during an assembly. Hochsprung participated in the latter two.
“I tried to be brave about the dancing because that’s really not my thing,” Hochsprung said. “The pie in the face was fun. I had to encourage the preschooler who had the pie to throw it. She was a little worried.”
“It was a lot of fun and everyone had a good time participating.”
Added student Zoe Warren: “It was kind of silly.”
Like Hochsprung, Brown was glad her school could be a part of the districtwide initiative.
“We’ve focused a lot this year on being kind to others,” Brown said. “We are talking about how everyone counts. There is a story we talk about: There is only one you in this great, big world, make it a better place.”
“This is one of those example of making the world a better place.”