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Cottonwood Heights Journal

A night like no other for school principal

May 21, 2018 02:26PM ● By Julie Slama

Bella Vista Elementary Principal Cory Anderson and his dogs greet students before school after he spent the night on the roof. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

It was in the wee hours of April 25 when Bella Vista Elementary Principal Cory Anderson heard police sirens by his school. He was up, watching the “beautiful moon,” and a “little sore from having a rough night.”

Anderson was sleeping in a tent on the roof of the school, fulfilling a promise to his students if they raised $8,000 by selling chocolate candy bars to help the PTA fund several programs, including DreamBox Learning, an online software provider that has more than 1,800 lessons presented as animated adventures, games and challenges.

Fifth-grader Iris Whitlock was the first student to check on her principal, arriving shortly after 8 a.m. 

“I wanted to see if he was up there,” she said. “He said he would do it, but a lot of students didn’t think he would. I came to check on him last night, but a sign said he’d be back in a few minutes because he went to get his dogs to sleep with him on the roof.” 

As more students arrived, Anderson greeted them with, “You guys didn’t think I’d really sleep up here, did you?” Then, he broke out into playing Frisbee from the roof with students on the ground below. He even gave instructions: “You throw a Frisbee like drawing a sword,” so students would learn the proper technique.

Mostly, students wanted to see his 9-year-old shih tzu Charlie and 15-year-old Yorkie Gracie, who were met with a bunch of “ahhs.”

However, his night didn’t go as planned with an uncomfortable air mattress and with the Utah Jazz losing a playoff game.

“I had planned on reading all about the Jazz winning so when they lost, it was really hard,” said the season ticket holder who was still thankful that the overnight got pushed back one week as it was originally slated during a snowstorm.

Still, he said it was worth it to motivate students.

Iris was one of the top three sellers.

“I sold 10 boxes because I wanted to help fund field trips and new soccer goals and everything else. I got to eat lunch with the principal, too,” she said.

PTA President Ciara Bell said the students raised $1,000 more than the school goal and it also will fund activities such as field day, bingo night, Reflections, Red Ribbon Week, the school carnival and teacher requests for supplies.

“It’s a fundraiser where everyone can participate, and who’s not going to buy a chocolate candy bar from a cute kid for $1?” she said.

In addition to the incentive of eating lunch with the principal and having him sleep on the roof, students also could earn light-up shoelaces to getting an extra recess. 

The idea about sleeping on the roof came from PTA fundraiser chair Lois Kristensen, who said two years ago, the principal agreed to kiss a pig and last year, be a mime.

“I asked him if he would do it and he said, ‘Sure, it sounds like super fun,’” she said. “He’s thrown water balloons and candy to the students and dangled his legs over the edge and talked to the students. Even this morning, with being a bit tired, he was throwing a Frisbee. He’s a creative and cheerful principal and gets on the kids’ level to show he supports them.”