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Principal on a roof

Krystle Wagner • Jun 5, 2019 at 12:00 PM

“Mrs. Hammond!” students yelled as they looked up to their school’s roof Tuesday afternoon.

Principal Shelly Hammond waved to her students below as she set up a tent in preparation of spending the night on the roof of Ferry Elementary School and Voyager School in Grand Haven.

Hammond’s unique place to stay the night was an incentive for students to reach their jog-a-thon fundraising goal of $6,000, which they surpassed by more than $1,000. The funds will benefit the PTO efforts to support the school. Hammond said the incentive added a level of excitement in the building.

While students concluded their recess, Hammond, her son Luka and physical education teacher Mike Barnett set up the tent with a cot and items to hold the tent to the roof because they couldn’t put stakes down.

Hammond planned to have dinner on the roof Tuesday night and spend the evening chatting with families who visited her, catching up with emails and work, and watching a movie. Some of her children were expected to join her for part of the evening.

When students arrived at school this morning, Hammond was planning to greet them from her roof perch.

Despite a chance for rain, Hammond said she planned to remain on the roof unless it turned into a thunderstorm. The tent was equipped with a cot, mattress and space heater.

“I have no plans on coming in,” she said Tuesday. “It will be cozy in there.”

“It’s crazy,” student Lolah King said of her principal spending the night on the roof.

S.T.E.M. teacher Ian Overway’s family was actively involved in raising funds to help meet the incentive. He and his son created a GoFundMe page and updated people with videos of the amount raised. The Overways raised more than $700 with friends and family in Chicago and Ireland. Overway said the excitement with the fundraising and incentive will help engage students in fundraisers for years to come.

Depending on the roof’s integrity, Overway expressed interest in getting more staff members involved in the incentive to stay a night up there.

“We might need to continue to meet their excitement, but if we can continue to meet that, I think we will see a rise in our goals,” he said.

On Thursday, Hammond plans to dye her hair blue after Sara Cooke’s second-grade class saved enough tickets to earn the incentive. Previously, classes have opted for popcorn and a movie or pajama days, Hammond said. Students earn the tickets for their positive actions through the school’s positive behavior intervention program, which is aimed at building relationships and culture.

By dying her hair and spending the night on the roof, Hammond said she hopes students look back and remember.

“It’s a way to build those positive school connections that some kids just don’t have,” she said. “This is one way to help them build those positive interactions with school.”

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