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Denali student Myranda Schiff is principal for a day

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Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 12:13 am | Updated: 1:51 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — Denali Elementary School’s principal was quite a bit shorter than usual Monday

Principal Tim Doran came in the form of a sixth-grade, long brown-haired, freckled girl. Myranda Schiff, 12, was principal for a day at Denali, which is a rare opportunity for sixth-grade students at the school.

Schiff’s day was out of her norm. She hung out in the office with the secretaries instead of in her classroom. She passed her classmates in the hall and they addressed her as “principal” instead of her first name. She wore her mom’s dress and black blazer instead of a T-shirt, like other students.

Throughout the day, Schiff helped Doran hand out “Proud Paper Panthers” to classes who behaved and worked well in the last week. Each time a class earns a paper, they also learn the word of the week, which was “phenomenal.”

“You guys did a phenomenal job this week,” Schiff told Sandy Lachman’s kindergarten class. “Phenomenal means super, super good.”

Schiff also had to supervise the third- and fourth-grade students’ recess. It wasn’t her first time with recess duty, though. As a peace-keeper, Schiff regularly supervises kindergarten classes on recess during her lunch hour.

“There’s the bell, so kids are going to start running outside,” she said, walking out the door herself.

She roamed the playground with some of her younger friends and ran into her third-grade brother, John Schiff, on top of the monkey bars.

“He’ll call me principal, but he won’t mean it,” she said.

Later in the afternoon, Schiff experienced another out-of-the-norm factor, even for a principal.

The Da Quan Dance and Musical Group from Taiwan arrived for a performance for the entire school. Five dancers adorned in bright costumes performed extensively choreographed pieces, and a four-member band performed Taiwanese music. Schiff and Doran watched the performance, side by side, and clapped along to the music.

After the show, Schiff gave each performer and organizer with the group a Denali Elementary coin.

Schiff is one of four lucky sixth-grade students to become “Principal for the Day” this spring.

Earlier in the year, Schiff applied for the one-day principal position.

Doran said a lot of sixth-grade students apply, and he picks through applicants to find well-rounded students.

“I do look for leadership from them,” he said. “They have to be willing to learn — not just be boss for the day.”

Still, the choice is always a tough one, he said. Students look forward to the chance to become “principal” from young ages.

Doran said the opportunity gives the kids a chance to see school from the principal’s eyes.

“It gives them a sense of the big picture of the school,” he said.

They get a chance to care for students’ safety when they watch them at recess, they see student displays from a parent’s standpoint — what students are learning in school and what teachers are teaching.

“It is fun — by the end of the day, they’re tired,” he said, laughing. “They realize we don’t necessarily eat at a certain time.

“Everyone gets a different experience because my day is different every day.”

Contact staff writer Reba Lean at 459-7523.

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