The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Sutter Students Plaster Principal Head to Toe with Ice Cream Toppings

Sutter Elementary School in Santa Clara celebrated its over-the-top successful 2022 walkathon fundraiser by plastering Principal Michael Fong and Instructional Coach Annie Stephanos with layers of drippy, gooey ice cream sundae toppings. 


At the Froggy Friday morning pep rally outdoors on Oct. 7, Fong and Stephanos sat on chairs inside plastic wading pools. They wore white, hooded hazmat suits, plastic shoe protectors and gloves and goggles. They were prepared for the worst—and they got it. 


Thirty-four eager students slathered them head to toe, starting with chocolate, caramel and strawberry syrups. They added baby marshmallows, M & Ms, Reddi Whip, cookies, gummy bears, sprinkles and the coup de grace—maraschino cherries. Buddy, the school’s Golden Doodle therapy dog, got in a lick or two.



“I thought you were my friends!” joked Stephanos as students pummeled her with marshmallows. 


“Mr. Fong has gone quiet. I hope he’s okay in there,” said the celebration emcee.


From time to time, Fong licked his lips. 


A county-wide decline in school enrollment (100 students at Sutter alone since COVID) reduced program funding available through the Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD). Rather than eliminate programs, Sutter School took action.  


In three weeks, the school raised $50,904, more than enough to cover the salaries of two part-time teachers for its science lab and computer immersion programs. It doubled its $25,000 goal, providing funds for reading and math intervention programs as well.  


Those students whose families raised $500 or more earned the reward of turning their principal and instructional coach into ice cream sundaes. They didn’t hesitate.  


“I’m so happy we got to do that for a prize,” said third grader Aila. “It felt amazing.” 


“It was really cool and fun, and I want to eat it,” said second-grader Ryan. 


“It was fun to decorate them,” said Ryan’s friend Alex. “I felt excited.” 


Alex’s parents, Connie Hu and Frank Tsai, were among the families witnessing the gleeful celebration. 


“We give applause, kudos, to the school leadership willing to do this and make it fun,” said Tsai. “It’s all for education.” 


The “Walking for Science” Sept. 16 fundraiser was spearheaded by third-grade co-teachers Erin Chapman and Samantha Maksim, who pointed out that there were no corporate donations. 


“Every cent added up,” said Maksim. “We’re over-the-top proud of how students rallied together for our first community event post-COVID.” 


It took about a dozen buckets of water to rinse off Fong and Stephanos.  


“It felt like an ice cream sundae car wash,” said Stephanos. 


She allowed that getting plastered with sundae toppings “was a small gesture of gratitude to pay for all the hard work the families and kids did to raise money for Sutter.” 


“I feel happy that we put a lot of smiles on people’s faces today,” said Fong, who has been principal for ten years.  


It was not the first time that Fong put himself at the mercy of his students. In 2015 they duct-taped him to the wall as a reward for raising money to buy Scholastic books for kids in need.


“But we’ve never raised this much money ever before. I’m really proud of our Sutter community for stepping up,” said Fong, peeling off his wet hazmat suit. 


  1. Leslee A. 2 years ago

    Sutter is the best! 🐸💚

  2. Leslee A. 2 years ago

    Sutter is the best! Thanks for making learning fun for our kiddos.

  3. Buchser Alum 2 years ago

    This is fun and congratulations to Sutter for a successful fundraising drive but it is also sad that our schools must turn to fundraisers to pay teacher salaries. And it is sadder still for schools in communities with much less money to give. I wish that we had rational taxation on our properties to reverse the deterioration of our public schools so that the schools only need to run fundraisers like this for nonessential extras like field trips.

  4. Melinda 2 years ago

    Way to Go Sutter!!!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


You may like