The Reeds Road Elementary School's participation in the American Heart Association's annual Jump Rope for Heart fundraising campaign - for which students spend two days in gym doing heart-healthy exercises in exchange for pledges - has been a resounding success, generating about $12,000 in its two years.
In the days leading up to this year's fundraiser, physical education teacher Dave Fink worried that the 2013 haul would fall short of the lofty marks of prior years. But as it turned out, his fears were unfounded, and the school bested its previous top haul by nearly $1,000, finishing with $7,001 this year.
"We were surprised, with the economy the way it is, to see an all-time high," said Fink, who runs the event with colleague Jennifer Sawhill. "We were prepared for it to even be a little bit below previous years, but we're certainly happy it's up there."
On March 14, the school converged on the auditorium for an assembly celebrating this year's campaign. The top fundraisers in each grade level were invited to the stage to be recognized and to present American Heart Association representative Dawn Whitman with a check.
As in previous years, the top raisers were given a special treat: a chance to put Principal Bill Zipparo in a sticky situation.
Two years ago, Zipparo was Saran Wrapped to a chair, and last year, he was shot with Silly String. This year, he allowed himself to be affixed to a bulletin board with masking tape.
After the kids finished taping Zipparo to the board, classroom assistant Dee Fields, the top fundraiser among the staff, was invited on stage to place a piece of tape over Zipparo's mouth.
Zipparo said afterward that he's glad to do his part in encouraging the kids to participate.
"Every year, if they can increase whatever they donated the year before, then I'm always willing to have something done to me, whether its pies in the face or Silly String squirted all over me or whatever," said Zipparo, who joked with the crowd during the taping.
The top two fundraisers, second-graders Molly Quinn and Anthony DelPrezzo, were honored with medals, which were placed around their necks before their peers. Molly managed to raise $475, and Anthony raised an even $1,000.
Molly said her favorite part of the assembly was hearing Zipparo mumble as he tried to speak through the gag.
"I liked seeing the tape go onto his mouth," Molly said, giggling. "I liked when he couldn't talk."
Anthony's mother, Valerie, attended the assembly. She said the funds Anthony raised were donated by her sister in memory of their father, who died of a heart attack at 84 a few months before the fundraiser.
She said she was impressed by the amount the kids managed to raise.
"I think it's awesome," DelPrezzo said. "It's a lot of hard work, but I'm sure they had fun doing it, too."
While Zipparo was still taped up, Fink pulled out an orange disposable razor, asking the students if he should shave off his boss' trademark mustache, to their great applause.
Zipparo, who said he has worn the mustache since he was a freshman in college in 1972, inched away in a feigned escape attempt but was stopped in his tracks.
After a few minutes of ribbing, Fink relented, and let Zipparo off the bulletin board, facial hair intact. But despite Zipparo's protest, Fink hinted the mustache might come off as a reward for a successful fundraiser next year.
Zipparo was less than excited at the prospect of ditching the mustache, but left the possibility open.
"I don't know," he said. "We'll have to wait and see."
Contact Braden Campbell: