Val Gallutia was sticking by his students as they stuck him to the wall Friday afternoon.
Students at Warner Elementary School took turns applying duct tape that held the principal against the wall of his school’s cafeteria. The spectacle was the result of a fundraiser that brought in about $1,000 to help buy a wheelchair van for a student.
First-grader Braden Petrucci suffers from cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair with very limited speech capabilities. The school-wide fundraising is aimed to buy the van for Braden’s mother, Tenia Johnson, who currently has to assemble and disassemble her son’s wheelchair each time they travel anywhere, storing it in the trunk of her Toyota Corolla.
The duct-taping process Friday took about an hour, with each class taking turns coming into the gymnasium as those who had paid $1 for a piece of tape added to the structure holding Gallutia to the wall.
Third-grader Ridge Rutledge stayed right by Gallutia’s side — he and his sister, 12-year-old MaKayla, brought in $150 for the effort, and they put much of the tape up. Ridge had a quick answer when asked why he had given his own money:
“To help that kid and his family and his mom so she doesn’t have to sit and struggle for all that time taking apart his wheelchair and put it back together whenever they get home.”
“It’s exciting watching them get excited about doing something for somebody else, and I’ve got a fantastic group of students,” Gallutia said from the cafeteria wall.
Gallutia stood on a stool during the taping, and the tape held him for a couple minutes when the stool was removed after an hour of duct-tape application. The response from students, teachers and administrators was unanimous as they looked at their principal firmly attached to the cafeteria wall just minutes before school dismissed:
“See you later.”