Steamboat Springs On Friday morning, Steamboat Springs High School Campus Supervisor Dennis Hensen stood in a custodians closet and flattened the wrinkles in his pale green cotton nightgown.
School Principal Kevin Taulman looked on and assured Hensen that his newly tinted hot pink hair - dyed with Hannah Montana-brand hair coloring - was a good style.
"He keeps telling me how beautiful I look," Hensen said, taking note of Taulman's cotton-candy-colored nightie. Seconds later, the doors to the cafeteria swung open, and the high school student body erupted as the two administrators revealed their outfits.
A few weeks ago, Taulman and Hensen agreed to spend a day sporting their feminine sides if high school students raised more than $1,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Colorado in a school-wide penny war.
"I have no problem doing this. It's fun, the kids gave a lot of money, and they had a great time," Taulman said. "I have no problem making a fool of myself if it goes to a great cause."
Each class contributed money to Make-A-Wish by adding pennies and other money to large water jugs. Meghan Hanrahan, a student who organized the fundraiser as part of her senior project, said the class with the most points at the end of the drive won a pizza party. Each penny counted for a point, and every cent of any other denomination counted as a negative point - meaning members of competing classes could sabotage other classes by putting bills into their jugs and still contribe to the cause.
"People were putting $20s and $10s in ours," Hanrahan said. Members of the senior class counteracted the large bills by pouring rolls of pennies into their own jug.
"I'm pretty sure the bank is wiped out of pennies right now," Hanrahan said, as she rattled off final tallies from memory for each class. Steamboat Springs High School students raised a total of $2,811.21. The senior class raised $1,161.42 but had 162 crumpled $1 bills shoved into their water jugs by the competition. That put them about 48,000 points behind the winning junior class.
The penny war gets Hanrahan about halfway to her goal of raising $6,000 for Make-A-Wish during the 2008-09 school year. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Colorado grants wishes to children with life-threatening conditions in an effort to enrich that child's life experience. The average cost of a wish is $6,000.
As students snapped shots of Taulman and Hensen with cell phone cameras, the two-and-a-half hours that Hanrahan and fellow senior Haley O'Brien spent counting change in Wells Fargo Bank started to pay off.
"It's good to get the whole school involved," O'Brien said.