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Messy fun raises funds for Newell student’s transplant – The Grand Island Independent: L

Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 10:47 pm | Updated: 5:25 pm, Wed Nov 27, 2013. By Harold Reutter Posted on November 26, 2013

Rory Thorpe’s family can be thankful that lots of raw eggs were broken over the head of Newell Elementary Principal Andrew Rinaldi’s head on Tuesday afternoon.

Thorpe, a Newell kindergartner, recently had kidney transplant surgery in Iowa, which prompted the entire student body to conduct a coin war to raise money to help defray some of the family’s expenses, which include travel expenses and his parents’ time off work.

Newell students collectively donated about $2,500, with each class trying to stuff the coin jars in other classrooms with as much spare change as possible. Rinaldi said the classrooms with the least amount of money were the winners.

The payoff for students in the two classes with the least money in its jars was an opportunity for each student in those classrooms to crack an egg over Rinaldi’s head. Rinaldi said Newell also tried to encourage greater membership in its PTA by giving any student whose parents joined the PTA a chance to break an egg on the principal’s noggin.

The payoff for every other Newell student was watching their school mates crack all those eggs over Rinaldi’s head. The school gymnasium was buzzing with excited chatter as students filed in to take their seats on the floor. During that process, Rinaldi remained the principal, helping guide students into the gym so they would be seated in orderly lines. Rinaldi remained the principal when he took the microphone to call the kids to order.

“Newell,” cried Rinaldi into the microphone, with the students yelling out their response of “Knights.” “Knights,” said Rinaldi, who received a shouted reply of “Newell” from the students.

Once he had their attention, Rinaldi told the students that their acts of generosity in contributing to the coin war inspired an act of generosity of from a community member who wanted his identity to remain anonymous.

Rinaldi said the man came in with rolls of quarters to donate to the fund. However, he told the kids that the man’s contribution consisted of special quarters, because they all had a high silver content. As a result, each quarter was worth between $3 and $4, not 25 cents. Rinaldi said the anonymous contribution added about another $2,500 to the students’ coin war total, bringing the total amount to about $5,000.

The surprised students burst into applause at the news. With that, Rinaldi started to make a transition from school principal to slapstick comedian. He told students that he “needed extra hair on my head” for the egg cracking ceremony. Rinaldi said he went to a local store and purchased an item that promised to grow hair on people’s head. Not only that, the label on the product promised that the hair growth would be instantaneous.

With that Rinaldi stepped up from the gymnasium floor to the stage on the north end of the gym, disappearing behind the tall, folding room dividers that separated the stage from the gym.

“It actually works,” Rinaldi exclaimed as he continued talking into the microphone. “This is so awesome. It’s amazing.” With that, Rinaldi re-appeared in the gymnasium, wearing protective goggles and sporting a head of very curly “hair,” which was really a wig. A plastic sheet that had a hole cut out for Rinaldi’s head was placed over him. He then sat on a plastic chair that had been placed in the middle of a plastic wading pool. Another plastic sheet was placed under the wading pool to help catch the gooey mess from any errant eggs.

Kids in Elizabeth Gronewog’s first-grade classroom and Erin Runcie’s third-grade classroom won the coin contest, so they were called forward first to break the eggs. The long line stretched from the gym outside to an adjoining hallway.

One-by-one, the students stepped forward, donned a plastic glove on the hand that they were going to use, then got the egg and splatted it on top of Rinaldi’s head. Yellow yolks and egg whites streamed down the principal’s head. However, the curly wig kept a number of egg shells resting on top of his head. Next came the students from the upper grades whose parents had agreed to join PTA, then the students from the lower grades. “We thought we’d have the older students go first to show the younger students how to do it,” said Rinaldi after all the eggs were cracked and all the students had exited the gym.

As students broke their eggs, the kids who remained seated occasionally became vocal participants, periodically chanting, “Do it! Do it!,” to the students who were breaking the eggs. No two breaking eggs behaved quite the same. A number of students — especially the taller ones — were able to break the eggs quite easily. But younger and shorter students needed to climb up on a chair to get the proper angle.

A number of eggs acted like they were hard-boiled, with their shells refusing to break. Some kids had to bang the egg into the principal’s head several times to get it to break. Teachers started using a pencil to poke a small hole, making the eggs a little easier for the kids to break.

Afterwards, Rinaldi said everything had been done for a good cause, pointing out that students and parents had donated even more money than he dared hope for. The principal noted that it doesn’t hurt for someone like himself to occasionally show students he has “a lighter side,” especially when the fun comes just before a school break such as Thanksgiving.

“The students will remind me of this all year,” Rinaldi predicted. But, he said, he’ll find another light-hearted incentive for a fundraiser next time.

“That is off my bucket list,” he said of the eggs.

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