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With daily jokes, Bridgewater-Raynham schools turn frowns into smiles

Paul Tzovolos Jr., Director of Student Services for the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District. revealed his informal half while participating in the district's joke challenge.
Paul Tzovolos Jr., Director of Student Services for the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District. revealed his informal half while participating in the district's joke challenge.Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District

The jokes range from corny to cornier, but they are getting rave reviews on the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District’s Facebook page as hundreds of people tune into the daily “Turn Your Frown Upside Down Joke of the Day Challenge.”

The joke tellers are administrators, teachers, and other staff — many in costume or accompanied by costumed family members and pets — who end each bit by challenging another person in the system with a cheeky: “The joke is on you.”

Superintendent Derek Swanson started the challenge on April 5 when it became clear that students would be learning remotely for a while in the district of 5,500 kids in seven schools.

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“We wanted to emphasize that although we are physically distant, we wanted to stay socially connected,” Swanson said. “We were trying to figure out a way to do that and, in this very difficult time, to bring a smile to people’s faces.”

He filmed himself telling a Star Wars-themed joke, with the help of his 11-year-old daughter, and posted it on the district’s Facebook page. It received almost 400 likes and comments.

“For an average post, I’m happy if I can get seven replies,” Swenson said.

The idea took off, with videos going up five days a week, and averaging 150 responses daily, Swenson said.

“I think it gives people something to look forward to,” he said, adding that he’ll get e-mails if he’s late posting the newest entry.

And Swenson said he thinks parents and students enjoy seeing the more human side of the school staff.

For example, Tim Kaliff, the principal of Bridgewater Middle School, told his joke — Why can’t you see elephants hiding in trees? Because they’re really good at it — while touching up the roots of his wife’s hair.

Paul Tzovolos Jr., the district’s director of student services, started his joke sitting at a desk in front of a computer in a collared shirt and tie – and stood up to reveal he was wearing pajama bottoms and fuzzy big foot slippers.

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Children and dogs appear in many of the videos, several in pirate costumes. One accompanying pirate joke: How much does it cost for a pirate to get his ears pierced? A buck-an-ear.

One fifth-grade teacher told giraffe jokes, with the help of her giraffe-costumed family members and a laugh track.

Swenson said one of his favorites was from Mitchell Elementary School Principal Dennis Bray, who sat on a chair next to a big bucket of ice and said he was ready to do the “Turn Your Frown Upside Down Ice Bucket Challenge.” He was relieved when his son told him there was no ice required, and then told a math joke: Why does a math book always worry? Because it has so many problems.

The video ends with a shriek as his son dumps the ice bucket on Bray’s head.

“We miss all of our kiddos, we miss our families, we miss our staff, and hopefully we can bring a smile to their faces every day,” Swenson said.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.