School No. 6 Principal William Mastriano poses with students, from left, Francisco Flores, Ethan Melendez, Patryk Bator, Dominick Skwirz, and Alexia Gutierrez after being taped to a gym wall as part of a fundraiser that brought in over $600. 

By Gary Miller

School No. 6 Principal William Mastriano was able to defy gravity – with a little help from hundreds of pieces of duct tape.

The school’s “Duct Tape the Principal” fundraiser on Friday, Jan. 26, was a great success, both in terms in money raised and fun for students and staff. Students paid $1 for a strip of tape to help stick Mastriano to a wall in the gym. The effort raised over $600 for the school’s Leader in Me initiative, which teaches leadership and life skills to students and creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader.

“Our ‘Duct Tape the Principal’ fundraiser far exceeded our expectations,” Mastriano said. “We are so lucky to have Dr. Robertozzi and the Board of Education for believing in events like this. It was exciting and energetic. You could really feel the support and school spirit.”

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Superintendent Danny A. Robertozzi gave credit to the School No. 6 staff members for their creativity and to Mastriano for being a good sport.

“This shows that Mr. Mastriano will literally go to the wall for his students,” Robertozzi said. “An event like this is a win-win because it brings the school community together for an afternoon of fun, and the funds raised will mean a lot down the road by teaching the children leadership skills that will pay dividends for a lifetime.”

principal being taped to a gym wall

Despite being a little warm and stiff, Mastriano remained upbeat throughout his time on the wall. At a midway point, staff took away his footstool to see if he would stick – and he did. But as he slowly sank, the staff could no longer fit the stool under his feet. So a lower step was put under his feet as the activity continued.

“After the first few groups of students, I felt great, no problems at all,” Mastriano said. “As time went on and the layers of tape began to accumulate, I started to get a little warm and feel stiff in my joints.

“Even though I was getting hot, I never thought about stopping. The smiles on the kids’ faces, having them involved, and raising money for them made it all worth it. It also helped that I had a stool to stand on – some of the time – and plenty of water.”

Grade levels were called up one by one in random order, and students lined up to put their strips of tape on their principal. Linden Councilman John Roman attended the event, donating $50 to the fundraiser and giving student more opportunities to apply the sticky stuff.

After the last strip of tape was placed and photos were snapped. Mastriano managed to break his way away from the wall, with a little help.

“I knew that there would be duct tape, but I never imagined there would be so much of it,” Mastriano said. “Over 600 pieces – that’s a lot of tape!”

Pro Tapes and Specialties of North Brunswick, which employs Christie Krupski, mother of pre-K student Brian Krupski, donated all of the tape.

principal stuck to the wall with duct tape

Students in the Leader in Me program will now implement plans for using the money that was raised. One initiative is to decorate the school’s halls with leadership themes. For example, one hallway will be redone with community leaders, one with African-American leaders.

“We will allow the kids to create a budget, plan and implement what they want the hall of leaders to look like,” said fourth-grade teacher Melissa Higgins, one of the coordinators of the program. “They will then purchase the materials needed and with the help of staff, transform the hallway.”

Mastriano praised both the leadership program and the fundraiser.

“We really enjoy these internal fundraisers,” he said. “It means so much to our school and our learning community. Seeing students, families, and staff members come together for this event is heart-warming. It helps us strengthen relationships and shows the students that sometimes it’s all about having some fun!”

principal being freed from duct tape