JFK Elementary School administrators get down and dirty at the “Slopstacle” Race

As the early summer sun shined bright on John F. Kennedy Elementary School’s lower yard on June 3, more than 700 joyful students watched their principals race through an obstacle course while getting doused in flour, eggs, cooked spaghetti and, well, slop.

“This is something we love to do to keep things light and fun for our kids,” said Principal Judy Diaz. “I’m so proud of our students for rising to the occasion and earning this event.”

The Slopstacle Race was originally planned for 2020 after a PTA fundraising goal was met, but school closures due to COVID-19 delayed the event. When students returned for the 2021-2022 school year, they began to exhibit increased levels of behavioral issues during recess and lunch. As a result, the race was reimagined, and administrators implemented a school wide SEL behavior improvement and incentive initiative, where students could earn tickets to the event for meeting school expectations established by RAM (Right Attitude Means Success) peer leaders.

“We were excited to put on this race for our students, said Assistant Principal Bryant Romano. “They earned it by showing they were RAMS—they maintained respectful attitudes every day at recess throughout the entire initiative.”

RAM peer leaders from third through fifth grade were selected to develop the school wide expectations based on examples of positive behaviors they wanted to see from their fellow students. Examples included “more kindness; more respect; more sharing, and less inappropriate language from fifth graders, especially in front of younger students.” Additionally, “respect other teachers who come into classrooms and monitors who are doing their best,” and “less screaming at classmates” were offered. Teachers and administrators then worked together to categorize the students’ ideas into four broader rules:

  • Be Kind.
  • Be Safe.
  • Be Respectful.
  • Take care of our school and everyone in it.

By following these guidelines and exhibiting positive behavior on the playground and during lunchtime, students would have the opportunity to see JFK administrators race head-to-head through a very sloppy obstacle course. The initiative ran throughout the month of May, with 357 tickets earned in total.

“We are thankful for the help of our PE staff, our CSE, and our PTA,” said Colleen Moore, Assistant Principal. “And thank you to our students for being kind, safe, respectful, and for taking care of our school and everyone in it.”

On the day of the big race, students and faculty lined the yard, grouped by team color: Ms. Diaz in blue; Mr. Romano in red; Ms. Moore in yellow. Ms. Diaz zipped through each obstacle quite gracefully, unaffected by the torrents of slop thrown her way. Ms. Moore and Mr. Romano darted their way through the course quickly as well, finishing in a close second and third, respectively.

Students laughed and cheered proudly, knowing it was their respectful attitudes that made the race a success.

“They’ve earned this by doing the right thing, by being respectful, safe and took care of each other, and we need that now more than ever,” said Ms. Diaz.