Pour some sugar on me, in the name of love.
Though not exactly what Def Leppard had in mind when they wrote their 1987 hit, the pouring of actual sugar in various forms takes place every year at Copper Creek Elementary School’s Hawk Walk, a fundraiser unlike any other.
The Copper Creek Hawks put the “fun” in fundraising by closing the annual Hawk Walk with the infamous “Messy Zone,” the creation of human sundaes comprised of faculty members drenched in a syrupy mixture of chocolate, strawberry and caramel sludge dripping with colored sprinkles, marshmallows and pure joy. Making a maltose masterpiece of the principal and a self-sacrificing teacher has become the main feature, the grand finale, the literal cherry on top of this event.
“The kids just love it,” said principal Kristjan Laumets, whose position binds him to a seat in the messy zone every year. “It is terrible as an adult. Here and there you have chocolate sauce in your eyes, and stuff dripping in your ears... but the kids get so excited and pumped for it.”
Students compete to participate in the Messy Zone by raising funds. Some schools sell cookie dough, some sell wrapping paper, candy bars or cookies.
Actually, if you ask the students, they aren’t really selling anything at all (besides smiles.) The students who collect the most money are the ones who get to reap the glory of being a renowned sundae artist, while one lucky student is chosen by raffle. According to three of the top collectors, “It was easy.”
According to fourth grader Kennedy and her sisters Avi and Lainey, “Just be nice. And be cute.”
Classrooms also use “Penny Wars” to send a specific teacher to the Messy Zone. Participating teachers have collection bins. Each penny adds to their total, while any other U.S. currency subtracts from their total. The teacher with the greatest gross collections wins. This year Penny Wars produced over $400.
“That is really the kids doing that,” said parent Kimberly Evans, head of the PTO in charge of organizing and executing the entire event. “They’re taking money out of their own piggy banks and they’re bringing in bags of pennies. So, it is more than just calling grandma and grandpa for money. This is their way to raise money for their school.”
In light of statewide budget cuts in the education sector, just the thought of making a mess of their principal and a teacher is enough to drive elementary schools students to only meet, but surpass the projected goal to raise $10,000.
“We always have to wonder if we are going to hit our goals,” said Evans. “We have this in the very beginning of the year because it sets our PTO budget for the rest of year and it allows us to know what we are and are not going to be able to do.”
In less than two weeks time, Copper Creek Elementary students raised over $12,000, which accounts for about 40 percent of the annual PTO budget, according to Evans. The money will go to replacing the school’s marquee, providing shade over the jungle gym and other expenses, including extra teacher expenses and general matters of maintenance.
The Hawk Walk starts out with a pep rally including mascots from local elementary schools and The Rialto Theater—in addition to cheerleaders from Canyon del Oro and Ironwood Ridge high schools. The students make their way around the field, getting blasted by squirt guns, bubbles and silly string by parents and grandparents.
“Public education at its best,” said Dr. Roseanne Lopez, associate superintendent of elementary education for Amphi Public Schools. “It combines community building, fitness and fundraising.”
Parents and faculty alike agree that it is the smiling children and the sense of community really make the Hawk Walk fun and successful. Everyone wins, especially the kids.
According to Crystal Hinz, the winner of Penny Wars, the kids are able to see that their teachers and principal care about their school—and know how to have some fun.
“They get involved even if they aren’t the ones that get to do it,” she said. “The kids have fun because they see us do something silly and not in the classroom or not so strict. Anything to make them happy and smile and laugh. Oh it was so much fun.”
Moe Irish is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.