School lets pie fly for charity Event: After collecting food for the needy, some middle-schoolers were rewarded with the chance to throw pies at their teachers' faces.

January 11, 1998|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

It was a chance to throw a pie in the face of a teacher -- with no danger of being suspended.

"Do you accept the challenge, Mr. Flanagan?" English teacher Richard Thompson asked seventh-grader Danny Flanagan at Westminster's West Middle School on Friday.

"Yeah, but our grades won't be affected in any way, will they?" Danny said.

He already knew the answer but was hamming it up for his 130 classmates, members of Team 4.

They were filled with the anticipation of watching Danny and five other lucky students get ready to hurl pie tins filled with cream into the faces of their six teachers.

"We told them for every 200 cans of food they brought in for the needy, one of us would take a pie," Thompson said.

The "pies" were not real because the event was part of a food drive, and the teachers decided it would be shameful to waste food in an indulgent display of low comedy.

When math teacher Amy Airing came up with the idea and proposed it to her colleagues, she figured it would boost the amount that the students brought in. It worked. Two boys, John Geiman and Bryan McDermott, each brought in 40 cans. Several collected more than 20 cans each, and all but six or seven students brought in at least one can.

For each can they brought in, students got to enter their names in a drawing for a chance to sock it to a teacher.

West Middle has held a pie-eating contest among the teachers as a charity fund-raiser. But this was the first time they had a pie-throwing event. Airing, in her second year of teaching, said she got the idea when she heard a few years ago about principals agreeing to undergo humiliation if students read enough books.

In particular, she remembers Bronson Jones, then principal at Northwest Middle School, agreeing to kiss a pig brought in by a parent.

Other principals have agreed to spend a day on roller skates, on the school roof or dressed as the school mascot.

Airing figured a pie in the face was worth the payoff -- 1,162 cans of food for the local food bank, Carroll County Food Sunday.

"I think it's cool of the teachers to do this," said Kenny Watts, one of the seventh-graders. "It made us want to work harder to bring in the cans."

Thompson, a veteran teacher, said the event offered a lesson to the students. "You have to show the kids that you're human, that you're willing to have fun," he said.

After he took his pie of lime-scented shaving cream (a couple of teachers opted for whipped cream, some for shaving cream), Thompson wiped off all but a little goatee-shaped triangle on his chin.

"This is really refreshing," he said.

Patricia Gibson, the social studies teacher, was especially daring.

Each teacher had to build a mound of cream in his or her pie tin, and she piled hers high.

She chose shaving cream, she said, so that she wouldn't waste any food.

Student Justin Starnes delivered the pie to Gibson's face, to a drum roll by classmate Jesse Magee.

"How did it feel to pie a teacher?" classmate Bryan Carnaggio asked later. Justin shrugged. About 8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10, he said. Mostly, he was impressed that Gibson was such a sport about the amount of cream in her pie.

"I thought she wasn't going to put very much on it," Justin said.

And while other teachers wore garbage bags fashioned into tunics, Gibson came prepared with a rain poncho.

Some expected the worst.

Science teacher Tracy Lee had chastised her class minutes pTC earlier for not putting their noses to the grindstone on the genetics unit they were studying. She warned that there would be a quiz tomorrow, and anyone who did poorly couldn't start the lab work until they went through a review. Students also would have to give up lunch to do makeup work.

"I wasn't sure how hard they were going to throw it," Lee said, explaining why she cringed and shut her eyes seconds before she got her pie from Danny Flanagan.

"I was really scared," she said.

And Airing, the last to take a pie, let as little of the whipped cream as possible go to waste, licking the cream Lucy Ricardo-style before the gleeful students.

Pub Date: 1/11/98

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