"Come on!" roared Hesperia Junior High School teacher John Alcorn. "Whoo!"


It was a bold taunt by Alcorn: He was literally duct-taped to the outside wall of a school building.


A moment later, several water balloons were lobbed his way, although both exploded on the wall beside him.


"I haven't even been touched!"


Alcorn wasn't alone up there: Taped up beside him was fellow teacher Faysel Bell and Principal Robert McCollum.


In fact, McCollum had spent a week encouraging Alcorn's and Bell's students to unload on the pair, and his efforts paid off with a much lighter bombardment on Friday.


"No, it's not comfortable," McCollum said two hours later, after he'd been peeled back off the wall. "It's important that students are at testing. Anything to motivate them; it's the carrot to get them to come to school."


April in California schools means state testing time, and this year, McCollum and his staff got their students to attend by promising them a carnival game of throwing water balloons at them, if students showed up. And they did: An average of 98.3 percent of students showed up for each day of STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) testing. In an era where failure to achieve on state or national testing standards can carry dire consequences for schools and districts, many of McCollum's counterparts have come up with incentives to get students to show up to attend testing.


The water ballooning was turned into another good cause: A chance to throw the balloons cost students 50 cents, with the funds raised split between the school's snowboarding and ski club and the school's AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) college preparatory program.


"Mr. Alcorn and I used to teach together, and that was easy. Mr. Bell, he runs the ski club," said McCollum. "They wanted to do a fundraiser where the kids threw water balloons at me, and I said 'sure, if you're up there.'"


"You can't throw it hard," one boy explained to his friend, after his turn with the water balloons. "That's when it falls apart" in midair.


"Mr. McCollum's the only one taking it like a man," his friend replied. "He's the only one not wearing [safety] glasses."


"They had a blast, the teachers had a blast," said McCollum. "As much as we push the kids with the standards, they really deserve something like this, they really do."


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