hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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November 21, 2013

Beware the flamingos!

Hockey players use fund-raising prank to cheer up sick teacher

Jean Ray couldn’t believe her eyes.

Armed with pink flamingos, members of the Haverhill High hockey team helped raise money for their program while also “honoring’’ Ray, an ardent sports booster, when they planted 100 of the plastic birds on her property.

“When my family came back from shopping that afternoon, I heard them laughing and running around outside,” said Ray, a Spanish teacher at Haverhill High.

Ray has been out on sick leave since the end of September, but plans to return to her classroom in early December. While her family was out of the house, members of the hockey team went there to deliver the birds — a recently hatched method of raising money for the team.

In addition to the birds, the players left a sign that read, “We hope you feel better Ms. Ray, our number one fan.’’

“That was the best surprise and best medicine ever,” Ray said.

The team and its boosters use the flamingos in this way: People donate money to send the flamingos to someone else’s lawn in good fun. One bird costs the sender $10, three birds cost $20, 12 birds cost $60 and 20 birds cost $100.

“There’s insurance as well,’’ said Haverhill High Hockey Boosters President John O’Neil. “The sender can buy insurance to prevent the recipient from sending back more flamingos.’’

The insurance costs $10 per policy.

A sports fan by nature, “I was a football pom-pom girl,” Ray said. She attends as many Haverhill High sporting events as she can.

“She has been one of our biggest fans,’’ Joshua Goldstein, a Haverhill High varsity hockey player, said of Ray. “Everyone likes her. She’s a fan of all our teams and goes to a lot of our games. We wanted to do something for her and to show the school’s appreciation,”

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