updated 10/16/2007 2:14:11 PM ET 2007-10-16T18:14:11

WELLSVILLE, Utah — When Lynn Archibald received a mysterious note asking whether he was missing anything big in his life, the middle school principal checked his pumpkin garden.

His giant gourd had been carted away shortly before the staff at Willow Valley Middle School judged their great pumpkin growing contest last week.

"He came into my class so distraught," teacher Ainsli Jenks said.

Archibald decided to turn his loss into a fun lesson, asking students to write about the pumpkin theft. Dozens of students responded with poems, stories and creative court scenes.

Green-thumbed thieves
The principal's purloined pumpkin turned out to be a winner in the end when the green-thumbed thieves, two teachers wearing shirts with black-and-white jail stripes, brought in the giant gourd for the weigh-in.

Archibald suddenly recognized the 184.5-pound pumpkin — the winner by more than 6 pounds — was his.

"School is just fun here. Now we have a new thing for Halloween," student Kelly Miller said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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