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Pucker up buttercup

Students meet fundraising goal, principal agrees to kiss a pig

Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you; a lady might have to kiss a few frogs before she meets her prince. On Friday students at Thomas Jefferson Elementary got to add a new wrinkle to the fairy tale when they learned that if you raise enough money for hurricane relief efforts you can watch your principal kiss a pig.

When Jenni Harris saw the devastation of Hurricane Harvey she knew that she had to do something. The music teacher, who splits time between Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson Elementary schools, came to Newton from Texas, when her husband had been stationed at Fort Hood. When she and Trisca Mick, the principal at Thomas Jefferson challenged the students to raise money for hurricane relief they gave them two goals; if the students raised $250 they’d be able to wear hats for an entire school day, but if they raised $500 or more, Harris and Mick would kiss a pig.

Students at Thomas Jefferson raised more than $800 in a coin drive and their peers at Woodrow Wilson matched their efforts, raising an additional $800 to help out.

“It’s more than we expected,” Mick said.

The money, along with a card made by students, will be sent to Schochler Elementary in Channelview, Texas where Harris taught previously. Harris said the school had sustained damage during the hurricane and subsequent flooding, 25 families at the school had their homes damaged, and four families lost their homes during the flooding. After letting her co-workers know about the shape her old school was in, Harris asked for help. She was amazed by the response.

“I thought we’d raise a couple of hundred bucks maybe, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that we’d raise this much,” Harris said.

When she called her former principal, Ann Marie Garza, to give her the news, Garza was shocked.

“She was just taken aback by our kindness and generosity,” Harris said.

Helping others is a key component of the cardinal code, and Mick said raising money to help those affected by the hurricanes is a good way to teach students the importance of being a stakeholder in the community. Even if it meant she had to kiss a pig.

The pig is Joy, the mascot of the Capitol II Theatre in Newton. Joy’s a familiar face around Newton, and on Friday she showed up at the school ready for action. During an assembly Joy showed off a number of her tricks, much to the students’ delight. But when it was time for the main event Joy balked at kissing the teacher and the principal. The lights and the noise of 300 shouting kids may have made her a little nervous, Joy’s handlers couldn’t even bribe her with marshmallows. Mick had to settle for giving Joy a kiss on top of her head, but the students were still excited.

“I feel so humble, I’ve been looking forward to this, but it is what it is,” Mick said.

Contact David Dolmage at
641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or

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