Principal spikes locks for kids

Students who read make Flint Walpole’s hair stand on end. Literally.

Walpole, the principal of West Hills Elementary School, challenged his students a few months ago to read a combined 3,000 at home with their parents. If they did, he said, he’d dye his hair.

The deal was the students had to read on their own at home and the parents had to write notes attesting to the reading. For each hour read, students earned a bear paw print to be put on the hallway wall.

Once the goal was met, the students took a vote to decide what color Walpole’s hair would have to be. The decision was easy — blue, as that is one of West Hill Elementary’s school colors.

On Monday morning, Walpole, true to his word, got an extreme makeover that included a Smurf-blue mustache, beard and hair. The hair was styled in a Billy Idolesque manner.

To make it even more memorable for the students, Walpole’s transformation took place in a crowded lunchroom in front of rowdy first-graders. The first-graders erupted into cheers when Walpole told them he was going through with the promise at about 11:15 a.m. and didn’t stop cheering until the deed was done.

While Walpole sat in the chair, local stylist (and West Hills Elementary Parent-Teacher Association Vice President) Donna Huntwork went to work with a tube of temporary hair color and hair gel. During the dye-job, the first-graders encouraged the scene by chanting “Blue, blue, blue!”

For Walpole, the hairstyle was a forgone conclusion as soon as he struck the deal, he said.

“I knew I would end up with blue hair. Our kids love to read,” he said.

The next reading goal is 6,000 hours, said organizer and PTA President Joyce Cowdery. She did not disclose what was in store for the principal when the students met that goal, but promised “it’s going to be good.”

The reading challenge is called “Wigs for Walpole,” and in addition to the blue hair gel, Walpole also will be wearing wigs and funky ties around the school for a week.

“He’s being a very good sport,” Cowdery said.

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