From ear to ear: NHS principal gets a pie to face, treats sold during Sunshine Squad auction

NHS Principal Caleb Smith takes a pie in the face fundraising for the Sunshine Club last year. Smith created the club and a number of other initiatives in his two years at Newton in order to improve culture within the school district and community. The Kansas Principals Association honored that effort by awarding Smith the Kansas Principal of the Year award for secondary education.

By Wendy Nugent, HC Now

NEWTON—Newton High School Principal Caleb Smith took a pie to the face Wednesday night while dressed in a suit and tie, all for a great cause.

This was at the Newton Community Pie Auction, an event that raised around $7,000 for the NHS Sunshine Squad, a group that spreads positivity throughout the school by recognizing people who work or attend school there.

Smith’s pie in the face kicked off the auction and Newton City Commissioner, local pastor and businessman Clint McBroom won that pie auction, so he had the honor of delivering the sweet treat.

The event was in Willis Gym, where tables were lined against the walls and attendees had the chance to sample other people’s pies. Most tables were set up with people and organizations offering their samples while showing off the pies to be auctioned off.

Some of those people featured NMC Health’s CEO Val Gleason, Harvey County Sheriff Chad Gay, Ron Lang with Union State Bank, City Commissioner Leroy Koehn, Newton Mayor Rich Stinnett, Adam Strunk and Lindsey Young with Harvey County Now, and Bethel College President Jon Gering.

The sheriff’s daughter Reagan and wife Robin also were at his booth, dishing out samples of their cheesecake.

“We call it Sheriff Oreo Cheesecake Pie,” Robin said.

Koehn’s table was nearby with his Cherry Cheesecake, which he said is probably his favorite.

“It’s a secret recipe I cannot disclose,” he said.

City Commissioner Rod Kreie also was close by with pies his wife, Dana, created. That pie sold for $400 to Kathy Stucky.

“It’s my mom’s [recipe],” Dana said. “I had to call her and show her pictures. She had a stroke and that put a smile on her face. I can’t go visit her now since she’s at [a local retirement community in Newton.]”

Dana said she retired as a family and community science teacher in Burrton.

Gleason, with NMC Health, called her pie Take Me Out to the Ballgame Pie, complete with peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

“I found a peanut butter pie recipe just online,” she said. “Newton is a baseball town, softball town.”

So, she said she wanted to keep that theme with her pie, adding the peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

Gering, with Bethel College, said his wife, the First Lady of Bethel, made the pie, which they call Bumble Berry Pie. It consists of rhubarb, apples, blackberries and raspberries. He said he thinks it’s from a family recipe on his wife’s side.

The mayor of Newton, Stinnett, made everything for the pie from scratch. Since he wasn’t able to be at the event, manning the table for him was Den Owen, Michael Parker and Cathy Anderson.

Jennifer Speer, with NMC Health, had her own table featuring Kansas Grandma’s Cherry-berry Pie, using her grandma, Eleanor Penka’s recipe.

“She was the baker, so I learned to bake with her and when I got out on my own and got married, I’d call her for recipes,” Speer said. “This is the way she made her crust.”

She said that while showing pies done with a lattice top crust.

Speer said her grandfather would eat a slice of pie from each pie his wife made at family dinners.

“My grandpa ended up quite a chubby little man,” Speer said.

For the final family meal that Speer’s grandma hosted, she made everyone’s favorite pie. If four people said they liked cherry pie, there would be four cherry pies—one for each person.

The event auctioneer was Carson Hayes, NHS alum, who went through all 26 pies with those who made or brought them talking about their pies.

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