Fifth-grader gets to be principal ... for a day

Ballentine Elementary principal Mitchell Stevens weighed his options long and hard, even soliciting the advice of his peers before ultimately trusting his instincts:

He decided to offer both pizza and chicken sandwiches for Friday’s lunch.

“It was a hard decision” he said.

Stevens, 10, said he accepted that those types of executive decisions came with the territory of being “Principal for a Day.”

The fifth-grade student won the title through a school silent auction in February.

His family’s winning bid of $175 earned him a day pass from his classes — except for chorus and a science quiz — and rule-making power.

Around the school, the signs of Stevens’ rules were evident.

Boys stood in the front of all lines, with girls bringing up the rear. Everybody wore hats.

Stevens wanted to give students extra recess, but the day’s rainy weather washed away that activity.

He stepped into his new role in style, armed with sugar cookies shaped like Ballentine bears for faculty and dressed for success in a tie, khaki pants and a leather jacket.

During the day he was treated with almost celebrity-like reverence.

Teachers smiled when they saw him, calling him “Mr. Stevens.”

Students smiled, some giving him high-fives, others eyeing him and quickly waving.

“It’s a really good experience getting to see another person being a principal,” Lucas McCutcheon, 9, said.

Stevens, who wants to be an engineer when he grows up, said he enjoyed most the carte blanche to peek into various teachers’ classrooms and get his best friend, Alden Brinkley, excused from class.

Brinkley, 11, who attended Ballentine Elementary’s kindergarten circus with Stevens as his special guest, said it’s good to have connections.

“It’s pretty cool, knowing that he has good ideas and he has a good lunch menu,” he said.

Lynnette Stevens said Mitchell’s grandmother was happy to pay for the experience for Mitchell.

“It’s a good way to go out of elementary school with a bang.”

The silent auction fundraisers are hosted by Ballentine Elementary’s parent and teacher organization.

The money goes toward field trips, student supplies and library books.

So what did Ballentine’s actual principal Barbara Brockhard do during her day off?

Why, show her temporary predecessor the ropes , of course.

“The kids love it,” she said.

As Stevens stood outside a classroom, he said his day as principal had exceeded his expectations.

“I’m very thankful for Mrs. Brockhard changing this whole day to make it my special day,” he said.

Moments later, his classmate Justin Harris waved him over to inspect his “principal bling” — a little golden crown with jewels and an “I (heart) Ballentine” button attached to his name badge.

As the conversation turned to lunch talk, Stevens seized the opportunity to brag to his buddy.

“I can have two lunches today,” he whispered.