Ken Acker, EDU ’89, thought he was heading to a lunchtime meeting to discuss security cameras in the cafeteria of Ridley High School, where he is in his first year as principal.

Instead, Acker walked right into the third installment of Temple’s pop-up pride, which swoops into the natural habitats of Owls to  surprise them with a dose of spirit and celebrate their love for Temple.

To keep the Jan. 27 event a secret, Temple enlisted the help of Assistant Principal Jamie Pena and Superintendent Lee Ann Wentzel, THM ’93, who set up the fictitious meeting to lure Acker to the cafeteria.

A Temple bus packed with band members, cheerleaders, Diamond Gems dancers, Cherry Crusaders and others pulled around the Delaware County, Pennsylvania, high school so the spirit squad could sneak into the cafeteria and burst in on Acker and hundreds of unsuspecting students.  

Kevin Acker, a junior biology major, nominated his father for pop-up pride.

“When I came in I had absolutely no idea, but when I heard the band, I knew exactly what it was,” said the elder Acker, a football season-ticket holder. “It was awesome. With my son going there, it rejuvenated everything I felt as an undergrad.”

Pop-up pride hype man Ray Smeriglio, SMC ’15, led Acker and the Ridley students in a rendition of “T for Temple U”—which Acker often used to wake up his sons for school—while Temple staffers handed out various giveaways.

Acker’s wife, Patty, hid behind a cafeteria wall with her sister-in-law so they could catch the surprise and then join in the celebration.

“Nothing could make him happier,” she said. “He’ll be talking about this for a long time.”

Brandon Lausch