After long days of state testing, Hesperia Junior High School students got their rewards: ice cream and spray paint.

While they did what kids naturally do with ice cream, the spray paint -- actually aerosol pink hair dye -- was turned on the school's principal, Robert McCollum.

"The more that the kids are here, the better they do on their [Standardized Testing and Reporting] tests," the newly pink McCollum said Tuesday. "One of the things the state requires is that a certain percentage of kids are here in order for the tests to be valid."

Historically, Hesperia Junior has to do a lot of make-up tests after the testing period ends to get up to the required number. So this year, McCollum and his staff made an "all-out push" to raise attendance numbers.

"One of the kids said, as far as an incentive, 'why won't you paint your hair pink?'"

And that was the deal: If 98 percent of the school's 1,700 students attended school during April's STAR testing, McCollum would sport a head of hot pink hair. And he wasn't the only one.

"I didn't press my administrators, but they volunteered," McCollum said. "It was a big deal. [Students] asked me 'are you really going to paint your hair pink?'"

The incentive seemed to work: Only 27 kids missed the first day of testing.

"That last week, every kid that had perfect attendance for those four days, we gave them ice cream," McCollum said. And not the prepackaged kind, either, but the good, scoopable stuff. "It was quite a sight to see ... We ran out of ice cream and had to buy some more."

In the end, 97.5 percent of Roadrunners were in school for STAR testing.

"So we rounded up."

McCollum's boss, Hesperia Unified School District Superintendent Mark McKinney manned the spray can, dyeing the hair of McCollum and his administrators pink.

"The kids were shouting and screaming," McCollum said. "It was well worth it."

When their hair stops being a shocking pink remains to be scene.

"I gosh, I hope tonight," McCollum laughed. "The little bottle says it'll come out in a couple of washes. I just hope it won't take the rest of my hair."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.