DOBSON — The Copeland Elementary School gym holds a bit of local history for the Copeland community. Built in 1963, the gym sits in a separate building from the rest of the school and serves as a multipurpose space for gym classes, school assemblies, fifth-grade graduation, community recreation and community events.
As one can imagine, in warmer months the heat in the gym can be unbearable. Copeland PTO is working hard to help fund air conditioning for the gym through special donation drives and events like Kiss the Pig. After all, they have been “bacon” in there for years.
2015-2016 Parent Teacher Organization President and Copeland parent Tanya Smith lead the PTO in organizing the Kiss the Pig fundraiser. Collection boxes were placed in each classroom. Students, parents and staff brought in donations for the cause. As an added incentive, the teachers of the class in each grade level who raised the most money would have to kiss a pig. Students and PTO challenged Margaret Spicer, school principal, to kiss a pig if they raised at least $1,000.
Giggles accompanied student donations in hopes their teacher and principal would have to kiss a pig. Dimes, nickels and pennies eventually added up, and $1,052.73 had been collected by the last day of the Kiss the Pig donation drive. When Spicer announced at the end of the day the total amount collected, cheers and giggles from the students could have been heard miles away.
Teachers of the winning classes in each grade level include: Donna Journey, Kathryn Hall, Tracie Whitaker, Pat Johnson, Jessica Johnson and Lesa Thomas. Students could not wait to see their teachers and principal kiss a pig.
Kiss the Pig day finally arrived after much anticipation. The day of the event, the pig’s owner, Dezarae Nichols, called the school to say the pig would not get in the car. Wilburt, her 190-pound black pot-bellied pig, would not get in the car to come to school. He had been on car rides before but on this day he would not budge and he was simply too heavy for her to lift. The event would have to be rescheduled.
When the announcement was made the event would be rescheduled, sighs of disappointment were heard through the halls. When students heard the second part of the announcement, that the pig would not get in the car, laughter erupted throughout the school.
Smith took on the challenge and began organizing the rescheduled event. She arranged for not one but two pigs to come to Copeland for the big day, just in case Wilburt was feeling uncooperative again. On the big day, Wilburt finally gave in and got in the car. Wilburt’s father, Bacon, owned by Nikki Ramey, came to school, too.
On the big day, students gathered on the blacktop outside while Ramey answered students’ questions about the pigs. Teachers and Spicer each took their turns kissing one of the pigs while students looked on excitedly. Smith was challenged to also kiss a pig and quickly stepped up to take her turn.
“This was so much fun and all the money raised was for a great cause,” said Smith.
While the students’ donations got the project funding off to a great start, the estimated cost to air condition the school gym is more than $30,000. Copeland Elementary PTO is seeking community business partners and individuals to help with this endeavor. If someone would like to contribute, direct all donations to the Copeland Elementary PTO.
Photo 1 (whitaker kissing pig.jpg) : 1st grade teacher Tracie Whitaker kisses Wilburt, the pig.
Photo 2 (CESkisspig-1.jpg) : Principal Margaret Spicer and Bacon, the pig, became friends after their first kiss.
Photo 3 (CESkisspig-24.jpg) : The pig’s owner, Nikki Ramey, shares with students about what it is like to have a pig for a pet.
Photo 4 (kisspig.jpg) : All for a good cause, these ladies each took their turn kissing a pig! From left to right: PTO President Tanya Smith, Bacon’s Owner Nikki Ramey, Kindergarten teacher Donna Journey, 3rd grade teacher Pat Johnson, 4th grade teacher Jessica Johnson, 5th grade teacher Lesa Thomas, Wilburt’s owner Dezarae Nichols, Principal Margaret Spicer, 2nd grade teacher Tracie Whitaker and 1st grade teacher Katheryn Hall