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Middle school's biggest, muddiest fundraiser is back after hiatus due to the pandemic.

PMG PHOTO: MEGAN STEWART - Students, staff and some parents joined in the fun of the Mud Run at Mountain View Middle School on May 20.

On May 20, a surge of Mountain View Middle School students raced around the schoolyard, launching themselves into the mud pit, wriggling through hay, clambering over walls, skidding across a makeshift slip-n-slide tarp and squealing loudly as they were sprayed with a hose.

Many teachers and administrators — clad in pink pig ears and noses and other outrageous accessories — joined their wards on the obstacle course, while parents snapped photos and recorded video.

After 18 months the Mud Run — MVMS's biggest fundraiser — had returned.

The annual event, which raises money for the school's PTA group and was most recently held in fall 2019, had to be canceled the last two years due to COVID concerns. Even now that kids are back in their classrooms, this was the first in-person all-school event since the pandemic began.

"The kids are so pent up," acting principal Bill Rogers said. "You can tell that they haven't had a chance to cut loose and have fun. And so, this is an opportunity for them to have fun while they're at school. It's hard to get back to school when you haven't been to school for a year and a half, or two years, so this is just a great end of the year sort of activity."PMG PHOTO: MEGAN STEWART - Acting principal Bill Rogers donned a white tutu, pig ears and hot pink T-shirt and joined in the fun.

Rogers — clad in pig ears, a white tutu and a bright pink T-shirt — gestured toward his colleagues with a wet, grassy hand.

"What could be more fun than rolling in the mud with your friends and laughing and giggling and watching your teachers be silly and covered in mud and wearing tutus?" he said.

The fifth annual Mud Run, subtitled Pig Pen Plunge due to its pig theme this year, was made possible by parents, teachers, administrators and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, whose personnel managed the slip n' slide. In total, over 48 volunteers were involved.

School let out early so that the event could start at 2:15 p.m. and ended an hour later before buses arrived to take the students home.

"It's a time for us to get messy and have fun with friends, and even though there are rules to keep us safe, they trusted us enough to be responsible and just have fun," said Leigh Thomas, a seventh grader. "It was a really good opportunity. And it's a fundraiser, so that's always good."

The money raised benefits students and teachers, pays for field trips, eighth grade graduation, new technology, staff appreciation and other school-related expenses.

Last year, since the PTA couldn't hold the event, the school subsisted off funds from dine-out nights at restaurants, or "yum-raisers" as some members of the PTA call them.

This year, the fundraising goal was $6,000, which students reached by the following week. As a prize, Rogers and assistant principal Lindsay Kopacek will be kissing a pig. The top two student earners and top three advisory classrooms also will receive prizes.

"It's just amazing because it felt like it (the pandemic) was never going to end, like two years ago," Thomas said. "And it's still going on, but that we're able to do this and it's safe now to do it, it's just a really good opportunity."

Right after the event ended, students were already gearing up for next year and thinking of ways it could be even better, including making the mud pit cover half of the obstacle course.

"I would love for it to happen again," student Corden Gemeroy said. Gemeroy has a heart condition but said he held nothing back for the event. "It's the most fun thing I've done this middle school year."

The PTA parents are confident the tradition will continue next year.

"Thank you to everyone who has supported it, who has volunteered for it, who has encouraged their student to participate in it. It's been a good kind of 'welcome back to normal school,'" PTA secretary Kelly Pepaolo said.

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