Fricano Primary Principal Bonnie Calamita is willing to do just about anything to encourage her students to read, and read well.
Last year, she kissed a cow on the mouth in the Starpoint Middle School auditorium as a reward to her kindergarten through second-grade pupils, because they each read for at least 20 minutes at home every evening for three weeks. They logged a total of 150,000 minutes as part of the school's Parents As Reading Partners Program.
Her 600 students achieved the same feat during the past three weeks, and Calamita had to come up with something big. So on Tuesday, she was slimed with a 30-gallon tub full of vanilla pudding in the Starpoint High School auditorium.
Some lime Jello mix added color to the ooze.
Calamita said her burial in slime coincided perfectly with this year's PARP program theme: "Rain or Slime it's reading time." Last year's theme was "Reading is MOOvelous."
The children ate it up. They laughed, cheered and squealed. It was deafening. Not only was the principal slimed, but art teacher Patrick Root was unexpectedly hit with a pail of ooze by "Mr. Bear," a bear-like creature who sometimes frolics in Fricano's hallways.
Mr. Bear said he felt the slime should be tested to make sure it worked.
Teachers Root, Jeff Tracy and Mike Luick, and Mr. Bear poured the messy goop over Calamita's head.
At one point, Calamita, wearing black slacks and a black blouse, was so covered with slime her face was competely concealed. It appeared she might drown. Fortunately, a towel, a shower and a fresh change of clothing was all she required to return to normal.
Not as lucky, Root said he couldn't shower and change because he had to teach immediately after the festivities.
Five-year-old Juliette Dolyk was among those thrilled. She laughed, cheered and clapped as Root was blasted with slime and Calamita was buried in it.
"I read every night so Mrs. Calamita'd get slimed," little Juliette said. "I liked it because it was funny."
Calamita said afterward that the experience left her "very slimy and very cold."
"It tastes a little limey," she said. "Kissing the cow was cleaner, but the slime smelled better."
After a moment of thought, she told her students, "[Getting slimed] was worth it because it helped get all of you reading."
Later, Calamita told a reporter, "My greatest fear is how will we outdo this next year. . . . I'm afraid I may end up on 'Fear Factor' next."
Kevin Caputi, a physical education teacher at Fricano, said Calamita need not fear.
"We have a Spirit Committee, which is in charge of coming up with fun activities at school," he said. He said he is sure the committee will come up with something equally enjoyable for Calamita to do next March.