The staff at Wayne Trail Elementary had some homework to do. How exactly does someone duct tape a person to a wall?
That was the task for principal Nick Neiderhouse and his staff heading into Tuesday’s event at the school, when Neiderhouse and teacher Megan Hall were taped to the gymnasium wall by staff members and students. Neiderhouse had made the deal to be taped to the wall if students raised at least $1,200 for Feed My Starving Children.
Turns out, they raised more than $1,900 and sealed his fate.
Hall watched how-to videos, and Neiderhouse had directions from a PTO organization. Apparently, taping someone to the wall of a school isn’t that uncommon.
Neiderhouse putting himself up for a good-natured punishment isn’t unheard of, either. In the past, he’s shaved his head, climbed to the roof of the school, and entered a dunk tank for various other fund-raisers.
“It brings excitement to the building,” Neiderhouse said. “Students look forward to seeing their principal in those humiliating ways. It sparks that excitement of coming to school. That’s what we want the children to do, come into school with a smile on their face and engaged in learning and excited to come.
“As a leader of the building, I have a large role in that. If their leader is willing to step out and do things that they’re uncomfortable with or can be challenging, I want students to understand sometimes you have to go outside the box to make a difference.”
Neiderhouse purchased 15 rolls of duct tape, and the process took about 30 minutes and most of those rolls. Hall and Neiderhouse were propped up on a milk crate and books because the tape had trouble sticking to the painted gym wall.
“I’m not sure our gym wall was the best because it’s a painted wall,” Neiderhouse said, “but in a concrete building, all we have is concrete or drywall. I didn’t want to take any concrete or drywall off and have to repair anything. But it served its purpose.”
After Neiderhouse and Hall were secured to the wall, fourth graders at the school arrived, starting chants like, “Hall on the wall” and “We need more tape.” Neiderhouse spoke to the assembly from the wall, congratulating them on their achievements. He also spoke about the importance of setting and reaching goals, whether that’s in the classroom, at home, or taping a principal to the wall.
“One student said, ‘I never thought I’d be duct taping my principal to the wall,’” Neiderhouse said. “... I hope students understand you have to do things and push yourself, to feel uncomfortable at times — that’s really how you grow.”
The Feed My Starving Children fund-raiser was planned for a year inside the school, along with community members and business partners. Neiderhouse looks forward to this fund-raiser, which they do every two years and raises awareness, funds, and materials for hungry children around the world.
The school didn’t leave it as a simple fund-raiser, tying it into the curriculum as well.
“We had service-learning projects,” Neiderhouse said. “Students were learning about different cultures, different needs, nourishment, environment, climate. You name it, it was going on last week. From that purpose, students were learning about why they were doing it and what they were going to do about it.”
Neiderhouse has made a name for his stunts. He isn’t worried about setting the punishment bar too high but admitted he may have to recycle some of his past ideas for future fund-raisers. Of course, that may not be necessary — there’s a variety of ways to motivate the students with his pride as the price.
“I like to add variety,” Neiderhouse said. “... There’s always something out there, there’s different ideas. I like setting the bar high because it sets that extra level of excitement.
“With my health and safety in mind, I’m up for new ideas. We’ll see what the next challenge brings.”
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