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Pint-sized principal: 8-year-old Hayden Wong takes on Faith Lutheran School's top job for a day
Last Friday, Hayden Wong arrived at Faith Lutheran School in Redmond ready to learn just like any other school day.
But rather than an education in reading, writing and arithmetic, the 8-year-old spent the day learning about what it takes to be a school principal. From greeting students and parents first thing in the morning and collecting classroom attendance sheets to conducting a fire drill and giving school tours to potential students' families, Hayden gained firsthand experience in what it takes to run a school. And while there was a lot to do, he was not surprised.
"I really expected it to be kind of busy," the third grader said, adding that he'd watched a video of last year's student principal.
The Principal for a Day experience has been an annual tradition at the school for about 15 years and comes from Faith Lutheran's annual auction, which helps pay for programs at the school including special arts, music and physical education classes that bring instructors from outside the school that go beyond tuition-covered teacher salary.
This year's auction will be March 23 at the Redmond Marriott Town Center hotel, located at 7401 164th Ave. N.E., at 5 p.m.
Heather Wong (below, left), Hayden's mother and a teacher at the school, said faculty members offer different "teacher experiences" as auction items and Principal for a Day is one such experience. She and her husband Dutchin Wong bid on it for Hayden because they wanted their son to experience being in a leadership position and learn how a school is run.
"It's really important to us for our kids to have a wonderful experience at school," Heather said.
Faith Lutheran has about 100 students ranging from 2 years old to the fourth grade and the principal experience is open to all ages -- whoever places the winning bid at the auction. Principal Barbara Deming has been on the job for six years and said each year she has had an elementary-age student principal, adding that having a younger student would be difficult, but they would figure out what to do.
In addition to running the school for a day, she said student principals receive a commemorative key to mark the special occasion.
Throughout the day, Deming walked Hayden through her typical daily tasks as he performed them.
One of these tasks was making the morning announcement, which included reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and the morning prayer. Hayden had a small case of nerves during the prayer and came down a bit hard on himself for it, but as he visited classroom during morning attendance, he saw that others were pretty forgiving.
Hayden said the classroom visits were among his favorite duties as principal.
"I actually liked walking around the school and getting attendance and meeting the kids," he said.
Ever the professional, "Principal Wong" went out of his way to shake hands with students of all ages, some of whom had no qualms about using a student principal to their advantage and requested special privileges.
"Everyone was asking questions like, 'Can we have an extra hour of recess?'" Hayden said.
While Hayden wasn't able to grant that request, he was able to extend second recess by a few minutes and let students have recess in the woods on the school grounds, which is more difficult to supervise and a privilege saved for special occasions.
Hayden said he enjoyed the whole experience but doesn't know if he wants to be a school principal when he grows up. And at 8, he still has time.
"I might want to be a kid a little longer," he said.