High school senior pranks generally run the gamut from greased doorknobs to toilet-papered trees to skipping school. So it's no wonder that when Kansas' North High Principal Sherman Padgett was told to "just hold the bucket" and stand in the hallway of his school, he was reluctant to do so. But he did it, and he wound up getting the happiest surprise of his life.

The senior prank was orchestrated by North High senior Emily Jones. She knew that some kids in her class were planning to skip school for their senior prank, but she wanted to do something a little nicer. So she came up with an idea that involved her principal, a bucket, and hopefully the participation of her class. Jones created small note cards that each senior could use to write a note of thanks to their principal and asked her peers to drop them in his bucket.

The hard part was convincing Padgett to actually stand in the hallway holding the bucket. “She didn’t say anything about why. She just said ‘hold the bucket,'” the principal told KWCH news. “I’m not going to hold the bucket unless I have a little inkling of why it could be.”

But being the good sport, Padgett did what Jones asked. And as he stood in that hallway holding the bucket, he held his breath and anticipated the worst — Glitter bomb? Fish guts? One by one students approached him and placed handwritten notes in the bucket.

letters seniors wrote to Principal Sherman Padgett“Thank you for making high school the best years of my life,” one note said.

“Thank you for the shirt you gave me,” another said. “When I didn’t have clothes on my back, you provided.”

And the kind words just kept rolling in:

“I love you, Mr. Padgett,” one senior said. “High school has been wonderful with you as my principal.”

“The thing I like about you is that you’re always so happy and positive,” read another. “You have a lot of school spirit.”

One student recalled how Padgett “helped me get through my eating disorder and helped me get into therapy.”

Each card featured a Dr. Seuss verse on the front: “My goodness, how the time has flown / How did it get so late so soon?” Jones printed 450 of the cards and then visited every senior English class to explain her plan and to hand out the note cards. She wasn't sure if any of the other kids would participate, but in the end, Padgett wound up with more than 400 notes from students sharing expressions of gratitude, memories, drawings and inside jokes.

As for Padgett, the experience has been priceless. “I kind of read them and thought, ‘Man, this is better than a paycheck,' " he said. "This is why I do the things that I do.'”

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Inset photo: Facebook