By Todd Martin

Special to the Daily Herald

Doing anything for the kids took a turn to the extreme for four educators at East Ward Elementary School Friday.

In a change collection fundraiser for Relay for Life, students gave $697 in pennies and other change, choosing with their coins the male teachers they wanted to dress like women or punk rockers.

Silver for Women of the Day and Pennies for Punks was the name of the unique fundraisers.

Assistant principal Robert Butler won the silver coin collection - if winning is the correct term - and allowed staff members to dress him like a punk rock star for a day.

The three other winners were kindergarten teacher Richard Crow, pre-kindergarten teacher Paul Erickson and bilingual aide Ramon Bodon.

The four arrived early for school and submitted to be made up in feminine garb by their colleagues.

Staff members gladly supplied dresses, jewelry, makeup, hose, shoes and wigs for the occasion. One of the dressed-up teachers even had his hair dyed blue. Students howled with delight as the group made their way up the hallways in a parade to show off their unusual appearances.

Clinic aide Renea Hunter orchestrated the fundraising fun and a spate of other efforts that raised more than $3,500 for the Relay for Life effort for the American Cancer Society.

"Anything to make the kids laugh," is how Crow explained his willingness to put on a dress and wig for the cause.

"They enjoy it," said Bodon in a huge understatement.

"It's been a stress relief after taking the TAKS test," Crow pointed out. "It's something they'll remember."

The school staff sold meals, photo frames, cookbooks decorated with student drawings and held a student dance to raise money for Relay for Life.

Butler, the assistant principal wearing a gray ponytail and bandana, said the cause was a good one, but he was most happy seeing the excitement of his students.

"More than raising money is seeing the kids with so much enthusiasm," he said. "They were so excited to put pennies in jars, they were constantly putting in pennies, even rolls of pennies. They are so excited."

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