By Amy Daybert Herald Writer
ARLINGTON — One by one, students pulled out their wallets and donated money to suspend four teachers on the wall in the commons of Arlington High School.
The fundraiser Friday, was a show of school spirit but it was a larger sign of compassion for a girl who attends a different high school.
Every dollar from the event will be donated to a fund for Henry M. Jackson High School senior Kayla Healy, 17, who has cystic fibrosis and is in need of a double-lung transplant.
Students bought strips of duct tape for a dollar apiece and put it on the teacher representing their grade level during three lunch periods. The teachers had their backs up against a wall in the school’s commons and were standing on stools.
Senior Nicholas Welch, 17, helped organize the event. He heard about the Suspend A Teacher fundraiser while attending a six-day summer leadership camp. He knew he wanted the event to happen at Arlington High School when he was assigned to a group in his leadership class that was put in charge of organizing a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis.
The group was working on the fundraiser when he read an article in The Herald about Kayla.
“I thought it would be a way for people to relate,” Nicholas said. “She’s a senior from a different high school; it’s real life for us because she’s our age.”
Teachers Sean Cunningham, Alvin Moore, Jay Schilaty and Jim Smoots let students pile layers of tape across their bodies for more than an hour. Donations grew to about $640.
When the stools were removed, students finishing lunch and others on their way to class stopped to see if the tape would hold.
The suspense built as three teachers fell. Senior Miriam Estrada, 18, waited to see if her teacher would stay taped to the wall.
When the final stool was taken away, cheers erupted. Cunningham, a social studies teacher representing the senior class, was still stuck in place.
“I can’t wait to hear the story he’s going to tell us on Monday,” Miriam said.
A few moments later the duct tape gave way and Cunningham was free. He said that while he was happy to be part the event, he wasn’t positive he’d stay put at all after watching his fellow teachers fall.
“When I saw the other three go down I just assumed I was going down, too,” he said. “I didn’t see the physics teacher out here so I didn’t know if the duct-tape design was weight appropriate. But what’s a lunch period spent hanging on a wall?”
Kayla’s mother, Lori Healy, didn’t know about the fundraiser at Arlington High School before it happened but was happy students organized it. People from other schools have also told her they’re planning fundraisers for her daughter.
“I just think it’s incredible that all of these people want to help,” she said. “We didn’t expect to have such a reception of fundraising and people who wanted to help.”
Kayla’s schoolmates at Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek organized a 3.5-mile walk on Nov. 2 to help raise money for her transplant.
“So much is going on,” Kayla said Friday. “I don’t really like attention so it’s hard but I like how everybody cares.”
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to help Kayla
The Healy family provides updates on fundraising activities and the collection of donations to help Kayla at cotaforkaylah.com. For more information, call Teri Healy at 206-384-4409.