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Centennial Arts Academy officials give pig $50K kiss
Money raised will go toward school
Centennial Arts Academy Principal Charlene Williams, dressed in a pig costume, and Assistant Principal Leslie Frierson, right, bend down to kiss Mary Nell the pig Tuesday afternoon in return for students raising $50,000 for the school.

How does it feel to kiss a pig in front of an entire school?

"Not good," Centennial Arts Academy Principal Charlene Williams said. "I am not an animal person."

Williams and Assistant Principal Leslie Frierson promised to kiss the pig if students collected $50,000 for the school.

The kids spent two weeks racking up the pledges for a Boosterthon Fun Run, which is organized by a school fundraising company that boosts participation and shares in the profits.

The pledges were made, so school leaders marched Tuesday down to the track by Gainesville High School as the students lined up on the hillside.

Williams was dressed in a pig costume, and she and Frierson wore plastic pig noses.

Excited yelps emanated from the students, and a few also came from Mary Nell, the bewildered-looking pig on the receiving end of the kiss. The animal was on loan from a party company.

"The pig has expressed its concern about kissing me," Frierson said. "It's a little skittish right now."

The kids started chanting "Kiss the pig! Kiss the pig!"
before she leaned in to give the pig a peck with the plastic pig nose. The principal hesitantly followed while the students erupted into applause.

"That was kind of gross. That was a live pig," first-grader Noah Drerup said.

"It was kind of bizarre and very funny," third-grader Adeline Horton said. "Ms. Williams was very afraid. She would get close and then jump away."

Though she felt squeamish about the pig, which began foaming at the mouth at one point, Frierson said the kiss was worth it.

"They were so excited leading up to this," she said. "I was blown away by their efforts; it speaks volumes of the family support at Centennial."

The money students raised likely will go to classroom technology and supplies for teachers, according to Parent Teacher Organization members Natalie Kempker and Angie Brand.

Asked if she would kiss a pig again, Williams said she would consider it.

"And if it's not flu season, I'll get closer to the mouth," she added.

Frierson said she would like to find a different motivator for the kids next year. However, there are some things she will not do.

"It's not going to be a pie in the face," she said, with a grin. "I'm putting my foot down now."

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