Principal demonstrates diplomacy
KU fan rewards students by switching loyalty for assembly
Kerry Brungardt says he's been a University of Kansas Jayhawk fan for as long as he can remember. But the Lansing Middle School principal was spotted in his school's gym on Friday promoting the Kansas State University Wildcats.
Brungardt greeted his students for an afternoon assembly wearing a KSU jacket and a Santa hat and waving a foam finger, all in K-State's official royal purple.
He was holding up his end of a bargain with students: to wear purple and sing the K-State fight song if the students donated 2,000 or more cans to the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund.
Just before Brungardt made his entrance, a teacher announced the students had met the challenge, collecting 2,056 cans from Dec. 5 to Dec. 15. The drive originally was scheduled to end Dec. 9, but the deadline was extended to make up for snow days Dec. 8-9.
Brungardt didn't attend KU - he graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison, where he had received a football scholarship - but he was raised in a family of KU fans in western Kansas, where K-State fans far outnumbered his kind, he said. He remembered listening to KU football and basketball games on the radio, and he now has season tickets for both sports.
"I go to every game," he said. "I'm a Jayhawk fan, period."
LMS students find out about his state school affinity, Brungardt said, either by word of mouth or by seeing his office, which is decorated with Jayhawk posters, figurines and other memorabilia.
Offering to wear K-State gear and sing the Wildcat fight song motivated students to donate to the food drive last year, Brungardt said, so he tried the gimmick again this year. He speculated that some students probably like to see him switch allegiance for the day out of "good-natured fun," though others may have a darker motive.
"For some, it's probably an act of revenge," Brungardt said.
Though at the assembly he claimed he would break out in a rash if he wore the purple gear for too long, Brungardt said he was game to let down his Jayhawk pride if it encouraged students to support charity.
"As long as it serves as an incentive," he said, "I'll be a good sport."
Most of the cans were donated to the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund, Brungardt said, but the school kept a portion to donate to nine families of LMS students the school had adopted for the holidays.
Brungardt praised his students at the assembly for their work and recognized a handful who donated more than 50 cans. One student and her family collected more than 90 cans to donate, he said.
"You did a good thing. Don't forget that," Brungardt told the LMS student body. "You provided for the less fortunate."