LA PALMA : Fund-Raising Scheme Leaves Principal All Wet

Bart Simpson would have been green with envy.

About 60 students from Los Coyotes Elementary School got to do something Thursday that surely would send the cartoon prankster into a frenzy: They circled their principal and hurled water balloons at him.

The event was a reward for the students, second- and fourth-graders, after a fund-raising drive for the school's parent association. The two classes that gathered the most paid memberships during a recent campaign earned a small cash award and the chance of a lifetime--one open shot for each student at Principal Jef Schleiger.

Schleiger donned a welding mask and raincoat, sat in the middle of a grassy playing field, and prepared for the onslaught.

One by one, the excited students took careful aim and threw. Most of the balloons missed Schleiger, many hit his legs and shoes, but a few well-placed shots scored direct hits on his face and chest.

After the initial round, Schleiger cried, "Now it's my turn to get you guys!," and fired some balloons back at the students, although he only hit the ground around where they were standing.

"That was a lot of fun," said 9-year-old Stephanie Atkins after the balloon toss. "Definitely better than doing our classwork."

Atkins lamented, though, that she wasn't able to get her principal wet.

"I hit somebody else," she said. "I hit a kid and today's his birthday. He wasn't mad, though."

Thursday's balloon throw was the idea of parents in the school's Parent Teacher Student Organization, which raises money for field trips, assemblies and other special events for the children.

Altogether the students sold 432 association memberships to family and friends for $3 each, raising about $1,300. The school's enrollment is 506.

"Kids like something tangible," Schleiger said as he dried off with a towel and laid out his sopping wet Top-Sider shoes. "The $30 [prize money] is nice, but to be able to throw something at someone was the key to getting them involved in the membership drive."

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