By Debbie Adams
In November, students and staff at William Byrd Middle School showed their commitment to the community by collecting over 1,000 food and clothing items for families in need this holiday season.
The Community Christmas Store which serves the entire valley, reached out to the school to see if they would be interested in helping them collect food and warm clothing to help stock their shelves for the holidays. The organization plans to feed about 450 families with donations from WBMS and other Roanoke County schools.
Guidance counselor Lubeth Jones coordinated the project at WBMS along with teachers Ashley Stultz and Jamie Nichols, and their student Teams, who handled the logistics of collecting, counting, sorting, packing, and record-keeping.
Jones says the Community Christmas Store was “thrilled with the efforts of the Byrd students.”
The food drive organizers came up with some enticements to encourage students to participate in the drive: students would be competing against staff to see who could bring in the most items (students brought food gifts; staff brought in hats, socks, and gloves), plus students would be able to “pie” five staff members who received the most votes in the competition.
Students who brought in food items received a ticket for each item, which they could then place in an envelope for the staff member they wished to “pie.”
Nine names were drawn from the envelopes to determine who would have the pleasure of throwing pies at the top five winners–Assistant Principal John Eggleston (the winner), and teachers Jamie Nichols, Bill Pratt, Denise Aspell, and Scott Whitehead. In fact, Eggleston agreed to sit for not just one, but five pies in the face.
Eighth grader Lillian Amaya’Dogan was determined that Whitehead would be among the top five, bringing in a donation herself of $100 for the purchase of canned goods and about 75 more canned food items at the last minute—all going towards his total. He had challenged his students to excel in the competition, promising to match their donations. She got to throw the pie.
The day of reckoning, or “Pie in the Face Day” was held on December 17, the last day before Winter Break. Eggleston, Nichols, Pratt, Whitehead, and Aspell, clad in protective plastic garbage bags and goggles, stood on a sheet of plastic in the center of the gym floor while eager students threw the whipped cream pies.
Eggleston and the teachers were gracious in enduring the enthusiastically thrown pies and cheering students. Eggleston said he asked himself, “How do I keep ending up in these situations?” He has not just experienced pies in the face for fundraisers and special projects, but at other schools where he has worked “kissed a pig, took a mud bath, and spent a day in jail.” The day in jail was the result of a Prom Promise in which “students pledged not to drink and drive.” The goal was for 90% of the student body to sign the pledge. With Eggleston—“the most popular guy in town”–making the pledge to spend a day in jail, 99% of the student body made the promise.