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John Scriven enters the Tilford auditorium to loud cheers Friday afternoon.

For most of the 30-minute assembly where Tilford students celebrated the $10,000 they helped raise for custodian John Scriven's fight against cancer, the auditorium was filled with happy music, dancing, laughter and delightful screams, as students watched several of their teachers and Principal Jim Murray kiss a pig.

But for a couple of moments, the auditorium was mostly silent as Mr. Murray presented John and his wife a check for $10,000. The principal fought back tears as he spoke about the friendships he has made with people at work. The students quietly whispered "John, John, John" as the principal gave the custodian the oversized check.

The janitor then stood and held the microphone as he spoke to the students and staff.

"Not a day goes by that I don't thank each and every one of you," said John.

When the children had gathered in the auditorium, John and his wife, Mickey, and his sister Mary Aamold -- who had come from California for the event -- made their way to the front row, with Mrs. Mathis leading them to their seats while leading the students in cheers with pompoms in her hands.

The students stood and cheered, clapping as they chanted the custodians name over and over.

"This is why we live here," said Mindy McClintock, one of the teachers who helped organized the fund-raiser. "We care what happens, and when we see somebody with a need, we say how can we help what can we do. And together, we can make it happen. we can do anything we set our minds to do."

Ms. McClintock then introduced John, Mickey and Mary -- and again the auditorium erupted in cheers and chants of "John, John John!"

The committee members: Sarah Mathis, Martin Annis, Steph Miller, Jeannie Peyton, and McClintock, then thanked Scott and Angie Tharp of Tharp Design and Tim and Nicole Guenther and the family of Click Stop, who helped sponsor the event and T-shirts.

Then it was time to kiss the pig.

VS alum and former school board member Todd Wiley brought a young pig, and five staff members each took turns kissing that pig. Wiley had come with a special cap with pig ears for each participant to wear while kissing the pig.

Other than assuming that Mr. Murray would be one of the pig-kissers, the students came not knowing which teachers had been chosen after their voting before Christmas break.

The students were asked to guess as they heard the following description of each:

He’s one funny and goofy teacher. He can make anyone laugh. EVERY student wants to be in his class....

2. He received the MOST votes in this contest. He loves the
Hawkeyes and to play golf.
3. She is the best singer in our building and she has taught every
student how to sing!
4. She is the wonderful recess teacher or should we call her “recess
queen?” She did have a lot of votes to kiss this pig...but did you
know she used to work on a pig farm....?
5. This teacher ALWAYS has a smile on her face and such a bubbly
personality! She has 2 boys that go to our school...

The committee members then stood in front of the students to show off their new hair colors, which had been added back stage while the other teachers kissed the pig. They also received a plaque honoring their efforts to help John.

Then it was time for tears.

The students grew quiet as Mr. Murray emotionally spoke to John and his wife and then presented him the check.

The auditorium soon got a loud again as Ms. McClintock led the students in a few more rounds of chanting the slogan of the fund-raiser: "Where John Counts!"

"This is Midwestern hospitality at its best," said John's sister, Mary.

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Comments (7)

What a meaningful memory for all those involved. So great to see everyone rally in support of John and we all wish him the best.
By: Judy Trygstad on January 18th 6:05pm
John made our day by coming to the assembly. The students were really hoping he would feel up to coming. You had to be there to understand how much they care about him. The smiles and cheers when he entered were "bring the house down" fantastic! The children ask about him all the time and miss him. We all do. Tilford Elementary Where John Counts is so appropriate because he made our students know they counted to him. Thank you John! Lynette
By: Lynette Voss on January 18th 6:11pm
And THIS is why I live in small town Iowa! So very proud of our young people right now.
By: Shelley Kramer on January 18th 9:40pm
What a great story. Such a lesson to teach our children to think of others, to help someone in need. We do live in the best community, so giving. My prayers for John and his family!
By: Kris Salzmann on January 19th 1:02pm
So proud of you, Tilford!
By: Kathy Knutsen on January 20th 11:44am
i am so proud of them even though i wasnt there
By: Lizzy Elizebeth on January 20th 6:43pm
John was my cousin. We often played together as children and I remember many happy times together with John and his sister, Mary.

I shall truly miss you,'re family.
By: Daniel Scriven on February 1st 4:14pm

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