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Students’ effort ends with a sweet reward

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What’s 2,300 pounds of food without a little dessert thrown in?

Don’t ask the kids at Rocky Run Elementary School because they threw in plenty. Literally.

The Stafford County elementary schoolers donated 2,385 pounds of food to the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank as part of a holiday drive, enough to serve up 1,987 meals.

And for dessert? Teachers who collected the most items were treated Friday to a close encounter of the Cool-Whipped kind: a pie in the face.

“There are a lot of us in this school who love friendly competition,” said second-grade teacher Sara Caswell, who organized the food drive—and paid for it with a whipped-cream facial after her students collected more food than any other second-grade class.

While teachers weren’t allowed to dump any of their food into other teachers’ buckets, they were allowed to encourage their students to “help” other teachers with their collections. The school community tracked each teacher’s progress via hand-drawn graphs posted in the school’s hallways.

Then Friday, the “winners” donned shower caps and ponchos before receiving their “prizes” on stage in front of the whole school. Honorees included Principal Nick Roman and Vice Principal Jennifer Jones along with music teacher Molly Spangenberg, kindergarten teacher Megan Steber, first-grade teacher Elizabeth Mangano, third-grade teacher Wendi Urbanic, fourth-grade teacher Sean Belako, fifth-grade teacher Sandy Gordon and Caswell.

Mangano’s class amassed 315 items, making her the top collector. A good sport, she danced The Running Man and The Sprinkler for the giggling crowd before student Avery Ulmer delivered a pie into her face.

“It felt good and yummy,” Mangano said.

Second-grader Amari Wichowski said she was a little nervous before pressing a pie into Caswell’s face, but she was happy to do it.

“It felt exciting and funny,” she said afterwards.

Her teacher didn’t seem to mind at all.

“My face feels so refreshed,” said Caswell. “I think I’m going to start doing that at night.”

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Edie Gross: 540/374-5428