Ted Macomber, principal at Olalla Elementary School in South Kitsap, found himself going above and beyond to celebrate high attendance marks at his school, much to the enjoyment and laughter of students.
On Feb. 2, roughly 30 Olalla students got the chance to end their most-recent school assembly by sliming the principal. One by one, the kids got their hands on toy soakers filled with a green substance that was later disclosed to be vanilla pudding with an overload of green food coloring. They were then directed to, in simple words, let ‘em have it.
“I’d never been slimed before,” a greener than life Macomber said afterwards, “but we’re always finding ways to get kids excited about school and something to cheer about.”
And cheer they did. Those who got the chance to slime rarely missed their mark, covering Macomber from head to toe in slime. The kids who did not get in line still took in the moment, chanting, “Slime, Slime!” and waving signs as the line continued.
The event was not only a blast for all involved but a celebration of a school-wide goal. “We have an attendance goal of making 95% attendance every day,” Macomber said. “Usually we’re in the nineties, but we were hitting our original goal of 93% almost every day.”
The standard was then raised to that 95% mark, and for the past several weeks, students had worked to record 10 total days at that level or better. It was by no means considered an easy task given the smaller overall student body at Olalla. All it would take to miss that mark in a day was roughly a dozen kids gone, and with the line of when to keep kids home blurred by the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, it only added to the challenge.
“I think our attendance in general is a focus of our school district,” Macomber added. “Attendance across the state has gone down, and so I think most states are establishing goals to reinforce the importance of being at school.”
The incentive of a sliming day gave the extra spark needed to meet that goal, and it wasn’t just the kids who were fans of the prize. One parent, Marna Palmer, said: “It’s really cool to see. My daughter loves this school and wants to see him get slimed. She had been talking about it almost every day.”
Such incentives also seem to be nothing new at the school. PE teacher Ryley Callaghan said he once drank a raw egg in front of an assembly after the school met what he called a student growth goal. “We’ve done some really fun ones,” he said with a laugh. “Once we put an incentive out there, we have to live up to it. It was Mr. Macomber’s turn this time.”