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Cow, pie in face reward students at Bobier Elementary

VISTA — To say there’s a lot going on at Bobier Elementary School might be an understatement to its faculty, staff and students.

Excitement and interest is growing on the kindergarten through fifth grade campus, with expectations of new enrollment boundaries in the fall to a possible learning model switch at the end of the year to the creation of a new engineering Genius Lab later this August — and if that wasn’t enough, last Friday, students got a thrill when seeing their principal kiss a cow and get a pie thrown in her face.

The cow and the pie in the face were meant as rewards to the students, who, for the week of March 2 through March 6, completed their Read Across America challenge, reading 1,758,387 words.

The school’s top reader, fifth grader Lesly Simental, who finished 16 books during that week, got the honor of throwing a pie in Principal Shannon Garcia’s face.

The kiss was “really wet,” Garcia said.

Third grader Matthew Aguilar said it was “kind of disgusting,” to see his principal kiss the cow. But he did think it was funny to watch her get a pie in the face.

For 9-year-old Dulce Lopez, it was the first time she had ever seen a real life cow — an experience she described as “good.” But on seeing her principal kiss the cow, she only said it was “bad.”

Fifth grader Lesly Simental, left, after throwing a pie in the face of Principal Shannon Garcia. Simental was the school’s best reader during the Read Across America challenge, reading 16 books. Photo by Tony Cagala
Fifth grader Lesly Simental, left, after throwing a pie in the face of Principal Shannon Garcia. Simental was the school’s best reader during the Read Across America challenge, reading 16 books. Photo by Tony Cagala

Miriam White, the school’s art teacher, came up with the idea of her principal kissing some kind of farm animal, that’s because, according to White, most of the students at Bobier have never seen a cow in real life before, even though they’re surrounded by agriculture, she said.

The idea began with kissing a baby pig — Garcia signed off on it, saying “OK.” When White discovered that a baby pig wasn’t available from Vista High School’s Future Farmers of America, she then offered a pig — Garcia, again signed off on it.

There was no pig available.

But what the Future Farmers did have was a steer — a 1,000-pound, 14-month-old Angus shorthorn cross named Houston. And so White again approached Garcia, this time asking if she would want to kiss a cow. The answer came back: “OK.”

That’s the way it’s been since Garcia’s arrival on campus last year.

White said that Garcia has helped to change the culture on campus, adding that the students are more excited about attending and are more motivated.

Garcia said she didn’t know what the culture was like before joining the school, adding that a principal can’t do all this herself or himself.

“You need the community, you need the school community and you need the parents,” she said.

With the ambitious scheduling of events parents and faculty had, Garcia said she wasn’t sure how it would all get done. But every time the events have happened because everyone has stepped up, she said.

“A lot of this stuff, all I had to do was say, ‘Let’s do it, sure,’” said Garcia.

With the Read Across America challenge met, Garcia urged her students to continue to keep up their reading habits and hard work every week.

Since adding MYON, a digital library that allows students to read books on any digital platform, to the school this year, Bobier is second in the Vista Unified School District, behind Temple Heights Elementary, for most amount of books read.

Though Garcia said they’re trying to catch them.

“We’re reading hard,” Garcia said.

With staff visiting other schools, Bobier is considering pursing a shift to the International Baccalaureate program or other learning models.

A vote at the end of the year will determine which path they take.

And Garcia said they already have a private donor, who wishes not to be named, providing funding to sponsor the switch.

In August the school plans to launch a new engineering Genius Lab, that Garcia has secured a $30,000 in district grants.

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