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Arizona principal fulfills rooftop vow

PHOENIX — There’s a lot of excitement at a Phoenix elementary school on Thursday morning as a principal is making good on a promise.

When the Washington Elementary School District set a goal of collecting 75,000 pounds of food for the St. Mary’s Food Bank, it encouraged school principals to challenge their students to bring in the most.

That got Principal Phil Liles of Arroyo Elementary thinking.

“It would take about 10,000 pounds of food for Arroyo to win the food drive,” he said.

“So I told the students that if they brought in 10,000 pounds of food, I would spend 24 hours up on the roof.”

The kids did their part, bringing in just over 10,000 pounds. And that means that Liles is headed up on the roof.

“I’ll be spending 24 hours on the roof starting Thursday morning at 6 a.m., and coming down Friday morning sometime between 7:30 and 8,” said Liles.

The extra hour or two will make up for time that Liles is allowed to come down off of the roof to take breaks. He’ll have plenty of stuff up on the roof with him.

“I will have a tent. I will have a mattress, so that I can sleep. I will have a desk, along with a chair,” Liles said. “I’ll bring up my computer so that I can try to get some work done.”

He’ll use a loud speaker to read to students who will sit on the grass below at some point in the day.

This is the second promise that Liles has had to fulfill as part of the food drive. He also pledged that any kid who brought in 16 pounds of food could hit him with a wet noodle. That happened a few weeks ago.

“The kindergartners, when they were throwing the noodles, they would just kind of sprinkle it,” said Liles. “By the time you got to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, they were heaving it pretty hard, so it felt like a snowball was hitting you in the face.”

Liles wants the students to see him up on the roof as his way of showing them that he’s proud of what they accomplished.

“It was fun to see them get excited about reaching our goal after not knowing whether we were going to make it or not,” he said. “(They were) really focusing on helping other people, and that’s really what it’s all about.”

The entire district has something to be proud of with the food drive. Not only did the district reach its goal, but it doubled it as the students collected a grand total of 151,000 pounds of food.