Yukon principal gets new coat … of paint

Reward for Central students who collected $15K in ‘fun run’

Central Elementary second grader Harper Sanders takes her turn painting Principal Laurie Gallagher. The school’s fall “fun run” fund-raiser will pay for new playground equipment and classroom safety supplies. (Photo provided)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Twenty students at one Yukon school gave their principal a colorful outer coating as a reward for hard work.

A “Paint the Principal” celebration was Friday afternoon, Oct. 7 at Central Elementary School, 300 S 9th.


Students literally got to paint Principal Laurie Gallagher after they collected $15,359 at a Sept. 16th “fun run,” the Central PSO (Parent-Staff Organization)’s fall fund-raiser.

“It was very, very impressive,” said Gallagher, in her seventh year as Central’s principal. “The students collect donations and 100% of the proceeds go back to the PSO.”

Central’s pre-kindergarten through third grade students ran laps during the annual fun run. Funds raised will be used to buy a new piece of playground equipment (to augment bond funds) and classroom safety supplies for the school.

“Because they did so well, two students from each grade level who brought in the most money got to throw paint balls at me,” Gallagher said.

The principal drew randomly names of other 10 students submitted by teachers to join in the painting party.

In all, the 20 Central students took turns over 30 minutes painting Gallagher all different colors.

“It was quite eventful,” she said.

“It didn’t quite go exactly as we hoped it would because some of the paintballs would bounce off of me and hit the floor. But the kids had so much fun.”

The celebration had to be moved inside the school because it was too windy, cold and rainy outdoors.

As Central Elementary School’s top fall fund-raisers, these students earned the honor of “painting” their Principal Laurie Gallagher: From left, first grader Kalon Cagle, kindergartner Carsen Bateman, second grader Harper Sanders, kindergartner Avery Ivie, Principal Gallagher, third grader Aiden Amin, third grader Aidan Stroup, second grader Esli Pillmore, and first grader Mason Hardie. Not pictured are pre-kindergartners Penny Dominey and Kamryn Slaughter. (Photo provided)


Central PSO Treasurer Ashley Grace came up with the idea of having the Paint the Principal event. Grace had used these paintballs at a preschool where she taught.

The small paintballs are soft, and it doesn’t hurt to be struck by them.

The paint is washable, so school custodians had no trouble cleaning up the stage’s wood floor outside where plastic drop-clothes were placed.

Parents of the 20 paint-ballers were advised to have their students wear clothes they didn’t mind getting paint on.

“Some of the paint did get on the kids – way more than I had really thought it would,” Gallagher said. “But they didn’t mind. They had fun with it.”

The brave Yukon principal has saved the multi-hued shirt and hat that she wore, hanging the artistic apparel inside the school for students to see as they walk down the hallway.

Central’s student body earned other prizes – like popcorn, pizza, ice cream, and snow cone parties – for their fund-raising success.

Gallagher has proven to be a “great sport”, having previously rewarded students for their efforts by allowing them to throw silly string and pies in her face.

Central Elementary has 335 students.

“I love the fun run day because every kid gets to participate and everybody’s happy,” said Gallagher, in her 10th year with Yukon Public Schools. “They can run as fast as they want, or they can just walk and talk with their friends if they want.”

The reward celebration for students achieving the fund-raising challenge is always a great time, Central’s principal added.

“It’s silly and the kids enjoy it,” she said. “It’s always fun, but it’s hard to keep coming up with creative ideas.

“Whatever we decide to do next year, it will be a lot of fun. I’m sure.”

Central Elementary first grader Mason Hardie “adds some color” to Principal Laurie Gallagher during a “Paint the Principal” celebration on Oct. 7 at the school. The principal painting party was a reward for the school raising $15,359 at its annual fall “fun run.” (Photo provided)