One thing was sure Friday about the masked superhero who visited Virginia City Middle School.
Students thought it would be Principal Todd Hess inside the red outfit, but it wasn't.
And when Spiderman jumped out from the curtain behind the stage, and Hess was seen walking across the floor, the interest was piqued, especially when Spidey shot his web - silly string - all over students.
"When I was growing up we had the Golden Rule," Spiderman said. "It was to treat people like you want to be treated. If someone is turning you upside down in a trash can, do you want to be treated that way?"
Students answered in unison, "no." Then Spiderman, who was in Virginia City to provide a lesson on bullies, characters who in the superhero world would be called villains, practiced web-shooting stances with two students.
"Bullies call people names, they take people's stuff, they give you a wedgie," he said. "They put a wet finger in your ear."
He told students that with great power comes great responsibility and asked them to take the Spiderman pledge to stay in school, to help others, to never hurt anyone and to be a good person.
"Is it cool to be mean to other people?" he asked. "I think it's better to be their buddy than be a bully."
Mariana Rodriguez, 12, and Jessy Defevers, 12, couldn't have agreed more. They said bullying hasn't been a huge problem at the school, but that last year some girls did seek help from a counselor to deal with antagonizers.
"They said to talk it out," Mariana said. "And to listen to each other instead of interrupting all the time."
Spiderman also visited Virginia City Elementary School, where Sue Moulden is principal. As grants coordinator, last year she started researching a way to bring a Marvel comic superhero to the school.
"We had sent out a survey to families and out of that response, parents let us know that what they thought we needed to do most was teach our kids to be nice to each other and treat each other better and do character-building activities," she said.
Although any Marvel superhero could have come for a visit, the story of Spiderman, who as Peter Parker was picked on in school, fit in best with the bullying topic. Sixth-grade middle school teacher Wendy Humphries enjoyed the presentation.
"Some years there has been some bullying here, but it hasn't been noticeable this year," she said. "It's a nice kind of preventative measure, in case anybody was planning to do some bullying. But it was good. Spiderman had some great energy and the kids picked it up."
Afterward, the man in red posed for pictures with students. His identity was never revealed. But Elliott Allen, 11, wanted to know if Spiderman could stick around for a while and climb the walls.
"You know, he would," Hess told him. "But he's got to get down to another school. Plus, he gets webs all over."
n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.