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'It's magic' | Shelbyville principal goes all in as 'Elf on the Shelf' for students

Beth Hoeing, principal of Southwestern Elementary, has dressed as the "Elf on the Shelf" for her students every day.

SHELBYVILLE, Ind. — At Southwestern Elementary School in Shelbyville, students watched Thursday as first-year principal Beth Hoeing became a human ice cream cone.

"We gave the kids a challenge back in November where if they raised 5,000 cans of food for here locally and for food insecurities, that they would be able to ice cream me," said Hoeing.

Hoeing said, of course, students were excited for this day to come.

"The student council made pictures of me with ice cream cones on my head and they plastered them all over the building and that was a lot of fun. The winning class as far as donations for canned goods, that was the class that got to ice cream me today, so there was quite a fierce competition, second grade between our two classrooms and Mr. Robinson's class won," said Hoeing.  

It's one of the many things Hoeing does for her students.

She is also "Elf on the Shelf."

"I saw it on TikTok and thought, 'Wow, if I'm ever able to have my own school building and be a school principal, I want to do this for my students," said Hoeing.    

So every morning, she dresses up, and posts around the school, welcoming students in. Staff posted videos on TikTok, including one that has amassed nearly eight million views.


Part 1! #teachertok #TikTokHolidays #principal #elfontheshelf #liveelfonashelf #fyp #foryoupage

♬ Elf - Main Theme - Geek Music

One day, "Elf on the Shelf" was taped to a wall. 

"We went to Jurassic World Live that day as a schoolwide field trip and you couldn't see it in the video, but along the floor all around my feet were blow up dinosaurs. So it looked like the dinosaurs had actually taped me to the wall," said Hoeing.

But there is something else we don't see in the video.

"We did not allot enough time for that one. We were not able to put enough tape on me to hold me to the wall in time for arrival, so there are a couple chairs underneath me, but that one was a lot of fun," said Hoeing.

Elf on the Shelf keeps students intrigued, even when the school day ends.

"Everyday when they're walking out, they say to me, 'I can't wait to see what the elf is doing tomorrow," Hoeing said.

For Hoeing, it's all about giving back to her students.

"It's magic. You know, being in an elementary school all the time is magic, but especially at Christmas and to be able to watch that magic it's an excitement," said Hoeing. "It's all for the kids. As long as we're doing something for the kids and the kids are enjoying it, that's all that matters."

It's all that matters inside the walls of Southwestern Elementary School.

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