HURRICANE – Between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., Thursday, 546 students of Hurricane Elementary School duct taped Principal Travis Wilstead to a tall wooden post before a Hurricane City Power Company construction truck lifted him about 20 feet into the blue sky – all thanks to the students meeting their yearly reading challenge.
It was as if Wilstead was Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” who said:
Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how.
This yearly reading challenge is a salute to Dr. Seuss, whose 110th birthday was March 2. As an incentive to read, Wilstead agrees to a different challenge each year if the students read 100,000 minutes in a week as a combined effort.
“We’ve had parents say that their children read a lot more during the week of this challenge,” Wilstead said. “It’s fun to see them get excited.”
Thirteen super-sized rolls of tape were provided by the school. Additional rolls of specially-patterned tape, including butterfly and flower designs, provided by a few students, stretched across the principal and put him in a thick, heavy layer of duct tape.
“This is the best day ever,” a young boy dressed in stegosaurus-printed footy pajamas shouted gleefully as he wound the tape across Wilstead’s knees.
One by one, the students got the opportunity to wrap one circle around the principal while Title 1 Coordinator Mathew Lowe coached them in keeping the tape taut and sticky-side inward.
“If I were Mr. Wilsead and I got bored standing up there, I would have chewed my way out,” third grader Garrett Bese said. “My favorite thing to read is my book on aviation and space.”
After each student, many dressed in animated pajamas and fuzzy top hats, got his or her opportunity to wrap the principal in tape, they all circled around him and chanted “lift him up, lift him up” before the hydraulic arm pulled him into the open air.
“The scariest part was being lowered to the ground,” Wilstead said. “But the worst part was while I was being taped and not being able to move. I would forget and try to move my arms and couldn’t. It was really uncomfortable.”
For the past six years, Wilstead has volunteered to be the guinea pig for such tasks as kissing a pig and jumping from an airplane to award the students for meeting the challenge.
“Kissing a pig was the worst so far,” Wilstead said, “a farmer brought the pig and I said ‘you could have cleaned him first,’,the whole place smelt like a farm.”
Next year’s partaking for the principal will be decided by this year’s fourth grade class who are competing in a writing contest for the award idea.
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