Fleetwood Middle School’s fifth grade students taped their principal, Gangi Cucciuffo, to the wall with red duct tape on Friday, May 1.

It didn’t take long for approximately 216 fifth grade students to fasten their principal to the wall of the gym. A large fan was brought in to try and cool him down as teams of two placed their tape strips over Cucciuffo. Someone needed to mop the sweat from his brow. When the last piece of tape was fastened, the footstool Cucciuffo stood on was removed to see if he stayed stuck to the wall.

“It was weird. It was very like constricting,” said Cucciuffo, and with a laugh added, “I guess tight and hot is really what it came down to.”

“This is the reward that the fifth grade class earned for bringing in the most canned goods during our Martin Luther King Day of Service Canned Good Drive and all of the canned goods were built into sculptures and then later donated to the Greater Reading Food Bank,” said Kim Price, fifth and sixth grade school counselor.

There were just a little more than 2,000 cans collected by the middle school students as a whole and then transformed into a life-sized sculpture of the game, Hungry Hungry Hippos. The cans were crafted to look like two huge hippos. Lee Ann Crits, fifth grade math teacher, said after they took the design down, the canned goods were then sent to the food banks in the area.

Local area churches and business also donated canned goods.

“I brought in probably like 50 [cans],” said Livia Magers. “I just thought it was cool that we could tape a person to the wall because I’ve never done this before and the cans are being donated to all the needy people.”

Connor Ammon really wanted to win and brought in approximately 20 cans.

“Who wouldn’t want to really tape their principal up to the wall?” said Ammon. “It’s pretty funny.”

The Can-struction Project was part of the school’s MLK Day event and students volunteered to help in different areas of the community.

“We have kids that will volunteer their time on a day that they don’t have school and our staff supervises them going out to different areas around the county such as Hope Rescue Mission and Berks Food Bank,” said Cucciuffo. “We went to the Keystone Villa and volunteered to help make blankets with some of the (residents) there, play Bingo with them, and also we made treats and stuff for the ASPCA.”

Cucciuffo said they have done this for the past three to four years. There were more than 100 students who participated in this year’s MLK Day of Care.

“I was pretty impressed. Kids are great in the fact that if you give them a mission and they get to see somebody do something a little crazy they’re more likely to do things for you,” said Cucciuffo.

The sculpture of the hippos was designed by, Rako Zech, seventh-grade math teacher. Zech likes to build things and came up with the idea after he saw what colors there were and how many cans he had to work with.

After the event, Cucciuffo managed to walk before the kids in his robe of tape to their loud cheering. He wanted to talk to them about good sportsmanship because immediately following the event were fifth and sixth grade basketball games. The Can-struction Project reward was held in conjunction with the middle school’s 32 Annual Basketball Tournament Championship for grades five and six.

“I hope everybody had some fun at my expense; that was absolutely wonderful,” said Cucciuffo. “Obviously I weigh too much to stay up on the wall so sorry about that part.”

Cucciuffo said maybe he would do it again for a good cause, but maybe they will do something a little different next year.

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