Grand Forks teachers take hundreds of pies to the face to save Christmas for students

The fundraiser raised $5,800 to help classmates whose parents can't afford Christmas this year.

GRAND FORKS — On Friday, Dec. 4, a student at Elroy Schroeder Middle School summed up the end of the day well.

"Chaotic, very chaotic," said sixth grader Wyatt Larson.

Students have spent the past month shoving pies in the face of staff members at the school as part of a fundraiser to make sure all students get to have a happy holiday season. Twenty dollars lets a student pie their teacher in the face in class — a mess that saves Christmas for some of these kids.

"This is the most nerve wracking thing I have done in my life," said a girl taping up Principal Dave Nowatski. "I have never duct taped anyone to the wall before."

On the other side of the gym, more rebellion as students lined up to pie a line of teachers.


"This was my 43rd pie of the month, so it wasn't too bad this time," said sixth grade English teacher Lauren McMillan.

Every penny stays at the school. At the beginning of November all 540 students were surveyed and asked for a Christmas wish list. The school then identifies those whose parents may be struggling financially at home.

"I like chaos in my classroom a little bit, so whenever you want to pull it out, whenever you want to have that $20 bill, we can stop class," said sixth grade teacher Justin Johnson. "We go individually through all these students and buy them things they want."

This year's goal was to raise $5,000. The students raised $5,800, which equaled 58 pies to the face on Friday for teachers and staff members.

The school's resource officer had to shave his head, but thankfully, he had already shot his family Christmas card already.

"I did it 10 years ago, but now I am in my 40s, I'm worried it may not come back," said Officer Jay Farmer with a laugh.

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Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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