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10,000 feet for $10,000

The principal at St. James Catholic School is quickly getting a reputation for creative motivational techniques. Last year, she promised her students that if they made their goal of raising $7,500 she would kiss a pig. This year, she has managed ...

The principal at St. James Catholic School is quickly getting a reputation for creative motivational techniques. Last year, she promised her students that if they made their goal of raising $7,500 she would kiss a pig. This year, she has managed to top that. She has made a daring promise to the 128 students at the West Duluth elementary school that if they can raise $10,000 she'll jump from a plane at 10,000 feet. "I've always wanted to parachute out of an airplane," Sharon Pristash said. "I've been parasailing twice and was not even a little bit scared. I thought maybe I could actually handle falling."
The idea to jump out a plane came to Pristash last year shortly after she made good on her promise to kiss a pig. A letter was sent to all the school families in August and fund raising started in earnest shortly after that. The promise seems to have been a good motivator. "I do believe it has," Pristash said. "They seem very motivated by it. I get asked at least once a day, 'Are you really going to do it?'"
Students have been going door to door and soliciting businesses for donations, and 120 businesses were contacted. In return, the school body has pledged to pick up litter in the neighborhoods and businesses near the school. All grades except preschool will be participating in the cleanup.
"This year we decided to make it a community service project," Pristash said. "We're doing a work-a-thon. We're cleaning up the garbage in our neighborhood, the business district and residential areas. We're giving back to the community while asking for financial support."
Besides wanting to jump out of a plane, Pristash is hoping for a successful fund-raising drive because the school relies on fund raising for 20 percent of its operating budget. Other income comes from church support and tuition. "The only way to meet our budget is to have some fund-raising income," Pristash said.
This year's fund raising has been earmarked for technology improvements and the ongoing cost of hardware, maintenance and Internet service.
The jump is scheduled for Monday afternoon at the Superior airport. Pristash will jump "in tandem" with an experienced skydiver, meaning she'll be attached to the skydiver and won't have to remember when to do what.
Pig kissing. Airplane jumping. What's next?

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