Evergreen principal takes to the roof for a day
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
October 24, 2012 · 1:22 PM
The day in the life of a school principal often consists of emails to fellow educators, signing off on various orders of school business, attending meetings, interacting with students and more.
For Evergreen Middle School (EMS) principal Sean Cassidy, things were no different Wednesday except instead of conducting business from his office, he did his job from a place with high visibility.
On Wednesday, Cassidy took to the school roof and worked there all day as a result of a challenge he threw out to his students.
COLD FOR A CAUSE
To encourage and motivate them to participate in the school's annual magazine drive and fund-raiser, he told students that if they raised $40,000 he would work from the roof for a day. The students brought in $43,333 — almost twice as much as last year's $24,000.
"It was pretty substantial," Cassidy said about the difference between this year and last year's totals.
The money raised will support the associated student body (ASB), which would pay for things such as sports uniforms, transportation costs for sports teams, school dances, assemblies, end-of-year parties and more.
"ASB activities are one of the things you tend to remember year after year," Cassidy said about the importance of funding activities that enrich students' overall school experiences.
True to his word, the new principal could be spotted on the school roof above one of the courtyards all day Wednesday — with the exception of about an hour during which Cassidy attended a meeting he claimed he couldn't cancel or reschedule.
He issued the challenge back in September in 70-degree weather, which made the idea of working on the roof a little more bearable. But with the arrival of autumn and the cold and rain that comes with it in the Pacific Northwest, Cassidy said he had his fingers crossed earlier in the week for a dry Wednesday.
While the day wasn't completely dry, it wasn't completely miserable and Cassidy arrived at school prepared to face the elements. Armed with a heavy jacket, beanie hat and hand warmers, he said it wasn't too bad working outside, adding that there are people who work outdoors all the time and he just had to keep that in mind.
To stay dry in the case of rain, his makeshift desk was placed underneath a University of Washington tent — the kind often seen at tailgate parties — which Cassidy brought in himself.
"No one got me diddly," he said.
In addition to their principal's school-wide challenge, individual teachers also put out challenges — often against other teachers.
One example included teachers competing against teachers who attended rival colleges. The teacher whose class raised the least amount of money would have to sport gear of their rival college for a day.
"Our staff really got on board," Cassidy said. "It was really exciting seeing the kids just having fun (as a result of staff participation)."
Cassidy said another teacher shaved his head as a challenge payout. While Cassidy said he is willing to do anything to get his students pumped up, he admits to drawing the line at shaving his head.
"(My hairs) may be going soon and I don't know if I want to encourage their departure from my scalp," he said.
While a number of teachers have already paid out on their challenges, others haven't.
Valerie Martin, who teaches leadership and language arts at EMS, said after winning a classroom challenge against another teacher, she will get to throw a pie in the other teacher's face at an upcoming assembly.
In addition, Martin is the school's ASB adviser and was tasked with the job of getting the school excited. She worked with the EMS executive board, which is made up of eighth-graders, on how to get the school pumped for the fund-raiser.
The first thing Martin and her students did was come up with a theme, which was mustaches, as in, "We 'mustache' the cash." They began drawing mustaches all over campus.
"Kids were so confused," Martin said with a laugh.
Things became even more confusing when they posted head shots of EMS staff throughout the school and then proceeded to draw mustaches on them, as well. Martin said this got students asking questions and by the time they learned about the fund-raiser, they got really excited. She added that once the students realized what the money would go toward — the students themselves — people got more enthusiastic.
Delaney Campbell, one of the students on the ASB executive board, said it took a little bit of work to get students to understand how they would benefit from the fund-raiser, but after giving out several examples people got the message. She added that much of the excitement could also be credited to trading ninth-graders for sixth-graders, thanks to the district-wide grade reconfiguration. She said sixth-graders tend to get more excited about these types of activities than ninth-graders.
Martin credits Cassidy's enthusiasm and participation for getting students excited and Campbell agreed.
"It just shows how much he cares about us," she said about the principal's challenges. "He cares so we should care."
While Cassidy helped motivate students, he said Martin played a large role, as well.
"She was a key piece in raising the money that we did," he said.
While raising money to support ASB activities is important, Martin said the fund-raiser also helped boost morale at EMS and bring the school together — especially as two-thirds of the school is new. She said kids really want to get involved in school activities and get invited to participate and her favorite part of working on the magazine fund-raiser was seeing this happen first hand.
"I think it made them feel involved a lot quicker," she said.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at email@example.com or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.