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Sealed with a kiss

After school exceeds fundraising goal, principal delivers on promise to smooch pig

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Duncombe Elementary School Principal Ryan Flaherty lays a wet one on a pig named Elsa Friday afternoon at the school. After the school exceeded its Miles of Pennies fundraising goal, Flaherty kept his promise to students that he would kiss a pig.

Duncombe Elementary School Principal Ryan Flaherty had a tough assignment on Friday.

It didn’t involve any written exams or PowerPoint presentations, though. Flaherty’s assignment involved a 75-pound pig.

After the school exceeded its Miles of Pennies fundraising goal recently, Flaherty was tasked with laying a wet one on the animal. That’s right — the principal had to pucker up and kiss a live pig.

Doug Adams, a pig farmer from Humboldt, brought three “little” piggies to the school. Gregg Hora, a pig farmer and member of Webster County Pork Producers, was there also.

Adams, Hora and Flaherty each had one to hold.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Duncombe Elementary School Principal Ryan Flaherty reacts after kissing a pig at the school Friday afternoon. Kindergarten students chose to have Flaherty kiss a pig after they exceeded their fundraising goal for the Miles of Pennies fundraising campaign.

“They looked a little smaller in the picture, Gregg,” Flaherty said.

“They don’t mind being held,” Adams said.

Adams named the pigs after characters from the movie “Frozen.”

“They were born in January after a cold snap we had,” Adams said.

Their names are Elsa, Anna and Sven. They are all females.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Caleigh Klass, 9, a fourth-grader at Duncombe Elementary School, reacts as Principal Ryan Flaherty brings a pig into the classroom on Friday afternoon.

Before taking the animals inside, Flaherty and Hora educated themselves by reading a children’s book about pigs.

“These are clean pigs,” Hora said.

As the three men carried Elsa, Anna and Sven into the school, squeals and screeches echoed throughout the building.

“She doesn’t sound too happy,” said Erica Conley, a third-grade teacher.

Teachers and students alike gasped as droppings began to fall from the pigs’ bottoms.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Gregg Hora, local pig farmer and member of Webster County Pork Producers, left, and Duncombe Elementary School Principal Ryan Flaherty, read up on pigs before introducing students to three live ones Friday afternoon. Elsa, Anna and Sven, the name of the three little pigs, squealed and screeched as they were carried through the school hallways. One left their mark on the shoe of Mr. Flaherty.

“Ew,” students could be heard saying.

Some of the slop landed on the top of Flaherty’s left dress shoe.

“Mr. Flaherty, you’ve got poop on your shoe,” one student said.

“I am well aware,” Flaherty responded.

Amid all the excitement, one teacher shouted, “I get paid extra today, Mr. Flaherty.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Duncombe Elementary students take the opportunity to pet a pig Friday afternoon at the school. Doug Adams, a pig farmer from Humboldt, brought three pigs to the school. One of which had to be kissed by Principal Ryan Flaherty.

Flaherty carried his new friend to all the classrooms around the school, including many on the second floor.

By the end, he’d worked up a sweat.

Soon it was time to honor his word.

Flaherty held the pig for all kindergarten students to see in the cafeteria.

He congratulated them on exceeding their fundraising goal for the Miles of Pennies project. Miles of Pennies challenges students and staff at each school to collect loose change in order to meet their fundraising goal.

The kindergarten class raised the most by bringing in $913.85.

He then puckered up and laid one on the unsuspecting pig. The display of affection was meant to broadcast to the other classrooms via Zoom.

But one teacher had some bad news. The screen appeared dark to the other classrooms watching.

So, Flaherty, being a good sport, decided to kiss the pig one last time during a second broadcast about 10 minutes later.

“One more time,” he said. “She’s got terrible breath.”

Flaherty said the ordeal was worth it to create memories for students and staff.

“In an unusually challenging year, we wanted to incorporate some fun and show off our school spirit,” Flaherty said. “I’m happy to help show off our school’s accomplishments, even if it means kissing a pig.”

Money raised by Miles of Pennies

Here is a breakdown of the money raised by each grade at Duncombe Elementary School:

Kindergarten — $913.85

First grade — $775.41

Second grade — $507.56

Third grade — $467.50

Fourth grade — $505.85

Here’s what all the schools in the district are raising money for through the Miles of Pennies fundraiser:

Butler Elementary School

Goal $1,500

Butler Elementary School plans on using the funds raised to purchase graphic novels and multicultural chapter books for its school library, according to Principal Carmen Banwart.

Cooper Elementary School

Goal $1,000

Cooper Elementary School Principal Lynnae Harvey said the school is fundraising for a new basketball hoop on its playground because one was broken over last summer.

Duncombe Elementary School

Goal $1,000

Duncombe Elementary School will use its funds raised to purchase more books for its school library.

Feelhaver Elementary School

Goal $1,000

Feelhaver Elementary School Principal Sara Fitzgerald said the school plans on using its monies to purchase equipment for recess play and the building’s Makerspace.

Riverside Early Learning Center

Goal $350

Riverside Early Learning Center has a more modest fundraising goal as the building has fewer students than the other buildings, Principal Tabitha Acree said.

The school is having different themed days for students during this fundraiser.

The funds raised by Riverside students and staff will be used to purchase science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) materials and activities for the media center.

“It makes learning fun and very hands-on and kids get to be creative and problem solve and apply learning from the classroom in a different method,” Acree said.

Fort Dodge Middle School

Goal $2,000

The $2,000 goal for Fort Dodge Middle School averages to about $250 for each pod within the building, Principal Aaron Davidson said.

The funds raised during this year’s Miles of Pennies fundraiser won’t actually be used until next school year, as the school plans on using them for transition events for students going from fifth grade to sixth grade. This year’s fifth-graders are the last to be at the middle school and starting next year, the fifth grade will be at the elementary school level.

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