AP NEWS

Westmoor principals camp out on roof after students’ feat

May 12, 2019

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) — Westmoor Elementary students arrived to school recently to see principal Bert Wright and assistant principal Lukas Benzel camping in tents on the roof.

“How are they ever going to get down?” asked student Isabella DeSantos.

Ahead of the Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) test, Wright came up with the idea that he and Benzel would camp overnight if 90% of the students in third, fourth and fifth grades took 40 minutes on each test. The teachers reported their students met their end of the deal, so the two principals recently climbed a ladder and hoisted up two tents, air mattresses, pillows, chairs and food. They set up their sleeping quarters on the southwest corner of the school’s roof, overlooking the playground.

“It’s a beautiful night,” Wright told the Star-Herald before climbing onto the roof. “I was a little worried today as there was a storm rolling in. It should be good.”

As they set up their tents and aired up their mattresses, Wright realized he forgot something.

“I forgot my pillow,” he said. “That was the only thing I forgot, so hopefully, one of my daughters will bring it to me.”

While Wright has had several enjoyable outdoor camping experiences, Benzel had only been camping one time.

“This is the second time camping for me in my life,” he said. “When I was 9, we went to Lake Minatare with my friend and we had a tent like this. In the middle of the night, it got really windy and it rained. My friend and I got freaked out and we went and laid in their van the rest of the night.”

Still being optimistic, Benzel felt like his second camping experience would be better.

Wright said the idea to sleep on the roof was a goofy idea to keep students going. He also said it’s to show students it’s OK “to be different and goofy. I want them to know that we value student achievement, too. At the end of the school year, you have to do some different things and be creative. That’s not just us. It’s also teachers so we can keep students going at this busy time of year.”

To make it through the night, Benzel packed pre-made popcorn and gummy bears and Wright brought chicken teriyaki and beef stroganoff meals in a bag. They cooked their meals over a propane camp stove as they watched the sunset.

As the students recently enjoyed 15 minutes of recess, they waived at Benzel and Wright while asking them how they got up on the roof and how they were going to get down.

Several students thought they were not going to sleep on the roof all night.

“I was thinking they were telling us lies and weren’t going to stay up there,” DeSantos said.

Student Owen Lathan echoed DeSantos’ comment.

“At first, I didn’t think they were going to sleep on the roof because nobody actually thought they were going to go up on the roof,” he said. “When I did see them on the roof and saw their flashlights when I was driving around the school just to see where they were, I was surprised.”

During a recent morning assembly, Wright and Benzel entered wearing their robes and slippers. While Benzel shared that he did not feel well-rested, it was worth it to celebrate the students’ achievements.

“It was a fun experience,” said Benzel. “I think it’s neat to be able to reward kids for hard work and it was certainly a creative way to encourage them. The cold was not bad. It was just the ability to get comfortable. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but that was OK. I’m happy to do it for these awesome kids at Westmoor.”

Wright agreed and is planning for next year.

Wright said, “That was fun. Next year, we’ll have to come up with something better.”

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Information from: Star-Herald, http://www.starherald.com