“We are the dreamers of dreams”

Faculty dives into a world of Pure Imagination
One dream. Pure imagination. Faculty had a challenge to find 11 Golden tickets. The grand prize was a trip to Lake Raystown.
One dream. Pure imagination. Faculty had a challenge to find 11 Golden tickets. The grand prize was a trip to Lake Raystown.
Courtesy of James Krug

“Time is a precious thing. Never waste it.” In the year of 1971, Paramount Pictures released Willy Wonka only earning $4 million by the end of its original run. Now, 52 years later, the movie has received ‘nothing but positive feedback’ and earned $625 million dollars nationwide.

Faculty members took part in their very own version of the movie with a Golden ticket challenge throughout both the A and B buildings. 

Climate and Culture Squad members Stephanie McAleer and James Krug’s goal is to come up with creative and unique ways to bring some fun to the faculty of AAHS. 

“Mr. Krug came up with the idea, and we worked together to make it a reality,” McAleer said. 

“I saw the new Wonka movie with my three daughters and thought it was phenomenal-very much in the spirit of the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and a welcome departure from the trippier Charlie & the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp,” Krug said. “I thought the idea of teachers searching the school for Golden tickets would be hilarious, awesome and a welcome pick-me-up at a ‘blah’ time of year.”

According to McAleer, the challenge makes the hard work worthwhile for faculty members. 

“It means a lot that so many of the faculty members play along and are excited about our activities,” McAleer said. “Our main goal as a squad is to make our workplace fun and enjoyable in order to boost teacher morale.”

The Climate and Culture Squad believes that one thing they gain from this challenge and all of their activities is the excitement and enjoyment of their co-workers. 

“We rarely participate in any of the contests ourselves,” McAleer said. “We may do something similar in the future. We like to mix things up, but we also like to bring back activities that teachers enjoy. We had hoped that the faculty would jump on board and show their competitive side, but we never imagined the tickets would have been found so quickly.”

“All of our events, even seemingly ‘smaller’ ones like this, take a ton of coordination and hard work from many people,” Krug said. “You have to send a minimal amount of emails to communicate an idea clearly and succinctly which is always a challenge for me. We also always need approval from our principals to ensure that our ideas, while always fun and filled with the best intentions, don’t disrupt the most important learning process for students at AAHS.”

According to Krug, there were a couple of controversies they had to at least consider.

“In the end, Mrs. McAleer and I met with Mrs. Harrington, and agreed that the slight challenges to our contest were not worth alienating or upsetting any teachers who may or may not have won prizes,” Krug said. “So we decided to keep this year’s winners exactly ‘as is’, and will add a couple small rules to tweak the contest next year. All of the principals-Mrs. Harrington and Mr. Neely in particular-loved the contest, so I feel certain this is not the last we’ve seen of it.”

Within the planning process, came lots of brainstorming from the squad. 

“Mr. Krug presented the idea,” McAleer said. “We then went to the principals for their input and approval. Mrs. Gardner, Mrs. Partsch and Mrs. Hetrick were all involved in deciding on and obtaining the prizes. Mr. Krug and I created the prize website, along with the golden tickets. We then all worked together to hide the tickets after school.”

“This was a challenge,” Krug said. “We had to conceive the idea, and then I had to learn how to create a Google Website on the fly with the help of Mrs. McAleer, who put me onto the idea. Then I had to re-learn how QR Codes work, as I thought of that idea to link the tickets. After coming up with rules, Mrs. McAleer laminated our Golden tickets with some awesome gold paper I got at Staples. Then we cleared all of the prizes with the principals and had to change a few last minute so that they were comfortable enough with the competition that they would approve it. Lastly, the most fun part of all was secretly hiding all of the Golden tickets one day after school with Mrs. McAleer, Mrs Hetrick, and Mrs. Gardner. We were all like kids in a candy store.”

Although the challenge was meant for faculty, McAleer doesn’t know what to expect from students. 

“It would be fun for a group to try out,” McAleer said. “However, our squad’s main concern is the climate and culture of the faculty.”

“I would say for this particular one, that is unlikely,” Krug said. “If it was a challenge to have 150 professional adults all follow the rules, opening something up to 2,200 teenagers may result in chaos. Fear not though; we have a new student twist for the upcoming March Madness challenge. Details to come.”

ESP teacher Regina Schobel won the grand prize of a trip to Raystown. 

“The ticket was taped behind the astronaut’s face shield, located in the planetarium,” Schobel said. “It took about ten to 15 minutes to find.”

Schobel’s reaction expressed how she had felt during the challenge and finding the final ticket. 

“The best memory was being the first to figure out the clue and get to the planetarium before anyone else,” Schobel said. “I definitely would participate in another challenge, especially when they are open to all faculty and staff. This was a great way to have some fun and break up the monotony of the day.”

According to Schobel, “running was an option.”

“I used no strategies or tactics,” Schobel said. “Just be the first one to the planetarium.”

Schobel plans to use the trip as a break to enjoy life outside of school. 

“I understand the importance of enjoying leisure time,” Schobel said. “Downtime is vital to our sense of mental wellbeing and our overall health.”

Special Education teacher Jarrod Prugar found a ticket near the metal detectors outside of head principal Andrew Neely’s office.

“I simply read Mr. Krug’s email in between wanding students, looked to my left and there it was in all its golden glory,” Prugar said. “I found it mere seconds after it was announced so I’m not sure there were many challenges for me other than figuring it out what it was.”

Prugar believes those who did not find a ticket were more envious. 

“It was a unique opportunity to come together as competitors and it is always fun when you’re able to compete for prizes against colleagues.”

— Jarrod Prugar

Just by sitting in a classroom, Spanish teacher Kayleen Czankner found a ticket on the bulletin board. 

It didn’t take any time to find. I wasn’t even looking when I saw it on the bulletin board,” Czankner said. “Winning the ticket was an unexpected pleasant surprise. The win put me in a great mood for the day because I usually never win anything.”

At the time, Czankner was not even looking for a ticket when she discovered one. 

“I was outside in the hall before reporting room started,” Czankner said. “I looked up and saw the ticket hidden on the bulletin board.”

While on the third floor of the B building, math teacher Madilyn Ober found a ticket outside of Mr. Foust’s room on top of a set of lockers. 

“The strategy that I used was just to walk around each floor and check under and behind everything,” Ober said. 

The biggest challenge, according to Ober, was not knowing where the ones that were already found were. 

“I overcame that challenge by just looking around anyway,” Ober said. “I mostly was just looking around for fun at first, I wasn’t really set on finding a ticket.”

Ober believes the challenge boosted morale among the faculty. 

“I think winning a ticket made me feel good and put a little pep in my step for the rest of the day,” Ober said. “I’m sure it was disappointing for other teachers who were not able to find a ticket. Everyone around me seemed eager to get out and start looking for the tickets. It was nice to take a little break from work and get out around the school.”

SEA teacher Cindy Murphy located a ticket among the pamphlets near the guidance office.

“It did not take me too long as I love challenges and began looking at a very fast pace literally everywhere I could think of,” Murphy said. 

Murphy felt as though she was doing this as a part of a team.

“Although I am all about being a team player, this was more of an individual challenge-I would hope others would be happy and excited for me,” Murphy said. 

According to Murphy, competitive nature takes over among the faculty. 

“I find if I give it my best try, win or lose, I’m happy with the attempt,” Murphy said. “Finally finding a ticket after literally looking everywhere I could think of was rewarding.”

Murphy tends to look back on the funny experiences from the challenge.

“One particular moment does not stand out as being memorable but trying to be secretive about where I had already looked and the fact that I was even bending down to act like I was tying my shoes while looking under tables and chairs was funny,” Murphy said. 

In between a clock, Special Education teacher Kaylee Matish found a Golden ticket.

“Having the majority/all of the staff engaged with different challenges and activities helps create a fun and positive environment.”

— Kaylee Matish

According to Matish, the challenge did not uncover competitiveness. 

“I was looking for a ticket, but I would have been okay if I did not win or find a ticket,” Matish said. “Although, I feel that there are very competitive people in the building that were on the hunt for a ticket.”

Matish and a few others went out during a prep period to search for tickets. 

“I am the shortest one out of the group and I found a ticket that was not in plain sight,” Matish said. “It was so high up. We laughed because who would think to look up when they are walking.”

The most rewarding part of the challenge was seeing different colleagues in the hallway looking for the tickets and communicating about something different rather than communicating about work. 

“The teachers who created this idea were probably tickled to see all the staff searching around,” Matish said. 

English teacher Heather Tippet-Wertz found a ticket in assistant principal Keri Harrington’s office when going to look for a lock for a key to the English department book room.

“Winning a ticket made me feel more connected to the AAHS community,” Tippet-Wertz said. “Initially, I wasn’t going to go out of my way to look for a ticket, but finding one definitely brightened my day.”

Tippet-Wertz is competitive by nature. 

“It’s not always evident in these types of challenges at school, though, because I’m usually too busy in the classroom to participate,” Tippet-Wertz said. “However, I am a life-long super fan of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, so finding a golden ticket was really meaningful to me.”

According to Tippet-Wertz, finding a ticket was the most rewarding part of the challenge. 

“I didn’t care which prize I won; I just wanted to be able to say I found a golden ticket,” Tippet-Wertz said. “Just like Grandpa Joe says, ‘Cause I got a golden ticket, I’ve got a golden chance. To make my way. And with the golden ticket, it’s a golden day!’”

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