Students donate, but teachers pay the price

From Local Sources

Students waived dollar bills in the air while they stood in line to buy pieces of duct tape to have their small part in sticking their principal to the wall. When the last strip was stuck, only Al Mihajlovits’s head remained uncovered.

“I don’t think he’s getting down from there anytime soon,” said Noah Owns, a third-grader at Holland Elementary School.

Taping Mihajlovits to the wall was part of the school-wide fundraising for Riley Children’s Hospital, a nationally known children’s hospital in Indianapolis.

The students set out several buckets each with a different task — special education teacher Lindsay Sickbert eats anchovies; a student dyes fourth-grade teacher Andrea Brown’s hair the colors of a rainbow; fifth-grade teacher Craig Denu wears a prom dress; Brown gets a pie in the face; music teacher Kim Wirthwein, a huge University of Kentucky fan, dresses up like an Indiana University student and lead cheers. To get the teachers to perform the tasks on the jars, the kids had to fill them with money, which they had no problem doing. The students raised $2,000 of the $2,500 goal.

“I think it’s important because the kids need help to get their physical health and just be with other kids,” said fourth-grader Kaylea Harlen.

Fourth-grader Avery Geesman, who has a younger cousin in Riley care right now, agreed with Harlan.

“It’s not only awesome, but it will help, like, way more than 10 kids, “ Geesman said.

The school took a break from class Friday afternoon to make a spectacle of the teachers performing their tasks. The students laughed when Denu walked into the gym sporting a yellow strapless prom dress and silver heels. “Go IU” echoed through the gym every few minutes as students forced Wirthwein  to cheer for a major UK rival. When it came time for Sickbert to eat the anchovies, “Eat it!” became the chant instead. Sickbert looked at the little fish disgustedly before tossing it in her mouth. She almost spit it out but swallowed it instead as the students chanted. Then she rinsed out her mouth.

The fundraiser was a sort of sending off for Mohjalovits, who will retire at the end of the school year. He’s been passionate about raining money for Riley since he visited the hospital with the Indiana Association of School Principals several years ago.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” Mihajlovits said. “My kids were healthy and my grandkids are healthy. (Visiting) brings you back to reality. Some families aren’t as lucky as mine.”

Holland is not the first school to raise money for Riley while Mihajlovits has been at the lead. When he was principal at Southridge Middle School, students there held a fundraiser that brought in an average of $10 per student. At Holland, a school with 195 students, they surpassed that goal of raising $10 per student, but were roughly $500 short of their $2,500 goal.

Even though they didn’t quite meet their goal, Brown was proud of the students for the effort and wanted them to remember why they got a fun Friday afternoon.

“This wasn’t just to be silly,” she told the students. “We did this for the kids.”

Tenth Street School in Jasper also held a Riley Week fundraiser last week. Students could donate $1 to wear themed outfits on the dress-up days — hat day, sports day, backward day, pajama day and school spirit day — have their names on paper basketballs that went up on a bulletin board, eat ice cream at lunch and play in a basketball knock-out contest. The students could also take a handful of cash and candy out of the Cash and Candy Scramble for 50 cents. Tenth Street raised $1,726.