When word spread that Principal Patricia Dorsey had agreed to spend the day on the roof of William Winchester Elementary School, several second-graders had a request.
While she was up there, they asked, could she kick down all the stray balls from recess and gym class?
"The first-graders were really concerned -- they said, 'Tell her to stay away from the edge,' " said Marty Devilbiss, Chapter 1 resource teacher at the school.
Mrs. Dorsey had agreed to spend the day on the roof in exchange for the children of the Westminster school having read at least 200,000 minutes since the winter, beyond their classwork.
Several other principals in the county have accepted similarly wacky challenges, such as spending the day on skates, kissing a pig and dressing up as a chipmunk.
"A woman is only as good as her word," Mrs. Dorsey told students yesterday, shortly before ascending to the roof in a cherry-picker. "You've done your part, so today is the day I'll do my part."
Reading teacher Dan Clifford read a proclamation which, among other things, officially declared Mrs. Dorsey "a good sport."
Mrs. Devilbiss, on behalf of the staff, presented Mrs. Dorsey with a survival kit -- a tote bag containing an umbrella, a bird identification guide, a journal and pens, a walkie-talkie and a box of fat Crayolas.
"And you can't go anywhere without a good book, so here's a book," Mrs. Devilbiss said, handing over a children's storybook.
The approximately 700 students hooted and cheered as Mrs. Dorsey hopped into the bucket of the cherry-picker, displaying no small degree of agility, to be hoisted one story to the roof.
On the flat roof, she had a lawn chair and an umbrella to provide shade.
"It's cool," said Russ Saylor, a third-grader. He figured Mrs. Dorsey could "make friends with birds all day."
Classmate Greg Metille said the event was even more fun than he had imagined, and surely worth the time he spent reading "White Fang" and "Huckleberry Finn."
Mrs. Dorsey went up to the roof shortly before 10 a.m., with plans to stay until 3 p.m.
By midday, however, she decided to go ahead and stay until 4 p.m., so she could wave goodbye to the children as they left school.
As for the stray balls, a secretary at the school relayed a message from Mrs. Dorsey that she didn't find any.