‘Kiss the Cow’

Jersey Shore students raise money for hurricane relief

CARA MORNINGSTAR/Sun-Gazette Bill the cow, taken care of by Nichole Bechdel, eighth grade language arts teacher, center, puckers up as Justin Armbruster, Jersey Shore Area Middle School assistant principal, leans in for a kiss during the Kiss the Cow event at the Jersey Shore Area High School football field recently.

Jersey Shore Area Middle School students were able to make some of their teachers kiss a cow in an effort for hurricane relief recently.

The faculty each had designated canisters for the students to vote which teacher would kiss a cow by donating money.

“There were cans in the cafeteria, and each teacher submitted their school pictures to put on the can. Each day, the kids could come in at lunch and drop money into the can,” said Justin Armbruster, assistant principal. “We’ve been giving them updates on the announcements.”

Armbruster, who had to kiss the cow three times, said it was all in good fun.

“I was trying to convince as many as possible to donate to anyone but me,” he said.

Armbruster, LynnAnn Charnego, eighth grade math teacher and John Beveridge, sixth grade art teacher, ended up kissing the cow.

Charnego said that having events like this really help the students.

“It helps them realize that they need to look out for everyone, be kind, raise money and help people in need,” she said.

As far as kissing the cow went, she said it wasn’t as bad as she anticipated.

The faculty members with the most donations were selected to kiss the cow during a school assembly out on the football field. The event itself was part of the district’s school wide positive behavior program, known as ROCK. ROCK stands for Respect yourself, Organize and plan for success, Care for people and property and Keep on learning.

“Our ROCK incentive program is for school wide positive behavior. It’s a reward program for kids doing the right thing,” said Anne-Marie Dincher, physical education teacher and ROCK incentive coordinator.

She said that the fall festival, which featured the kiss the cow event, helped students display good behaviors because they wanted to participate in the fun and games.

“It’s about recognizing our kids for their positive behavior throughout the year,” Armbruster said. “It’s about giving them the opportunity to feel appreciated and feel rewarded for all the stuff they do throughout the year … We’re also raising the money towards hurricane relief.”

He said the school was working with the Salvation Army. The school was able to raise about $400 toward hurricane relief in about three weeks.

Nichole Bechdel, eighth grade language arts teacher and owner of the cow, said that Bill the cow was raised by her daughter, Emily Bechdel.

“The kiss the cow thing was actually something that the middle school did years ago when it was still a junior high,” she said.

Bechdel said that there was a committee of students last year that looked into bringing back the event.

“Bill is my daughter’s feeder calf … He’ll be a year old in February. So far, he’s being really good with all the things he’s getting used to,” she said.

Letting the students see the faculty participate and actually kiss a cow was a special treat.

“The kids wanted it, and an awful lot of teachers volunteered to put their faces on cans in the cafeteria,” she said.

It had been about a decade since the school had put on a kiss the cow event.

“My husband didn’t think it’d be great because he didn’t think the kids would be curious about the animals and stuff. Jersey Shore isn’t exactly an urban setting,” Bechdel said. “But the kids have been absolutely wonderful.”

She said she discovered that Bill the cow loves bananas, so she was able to let some students interact with the cow by feeding him some banana treats.

“One student told me, ‘This is the closest I’ve ever been to a cow. Can I pet him?’ He got to touch a cow today,” she said. “It’s been really neat.”

She said many of the students were able to interact with the cow and ask questions about its care.

“I think that the kids like anything different,” she said. “Plus, to have that many teachers say, ‘Yup, I’ll do it … If it’s to raise money, I’m in’ was really nice.”

Seeing the teachers get involved encouraged the students to get involved, Bechdel said. Plus, it was all for a great cause.