Students catch reading bug

Reading Challenge encourages learning

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— Students at South Routt Elementary have never been more excited to read than now.

By reading just a few more pages, they will get to humiliate their principal Troy Zable -- again.

"It's fun he's willing to make a fool of himself," said Gay Linke, teacher and founder of South Routt's "Reading Challenge."

Linke said she got some help from observing a similar reading incentive program in Craig.

So far, South Routt's Reading Challenge has encouraged student from kindergarten to fifth grade to read 141,520 pages of text. It has also given Zable a bloody nose from eight pies in the face from hard-hitting students and teachers, and forced him to kiss the snout of a squealing swine.

Last year, Zable almost bleached his hair for the sake of reading encouragement, but set the goal too high, calling for the students to reach 10,000 books.

This year has four gradual goals the students can reach. They have already completed two and are on track to reach the ultimate goal of reading 200,000 pages of text.

For every 20 pages, they get to put a bean in a jar to keep count. When the jar is filled with 7,500 beans for 150,000 pages, Zable will be taken captive and duct-taped to the gym wall.

Fifth-grader Gage Achtner said he has read more this year than ever, but more importantly, "It's going to be fun to see the principal duct-taped to the wall."

When the jar is completely full with 10,000 beans for all 200,000 pages, Zable will wear a red dress to school.

"That's his color," Linke joked.

The Reading Challenge also encourages community involvement.

Parents are constantly asking teachers about the status of the jar, and are helping their children reach their goals.

"This really motivates everybody to get involved in reading," Zable said.

"We even have kids coming up to us saying, 'Have you read this book? Well, you should,'" Linke said. "Or, 'maybe this one should be in the library.'"

Most of the South Routt students said they have been reading more because of the challenge.

Fourth-grader Ceanna Rossi said she has read about 30 books this year and has improved because of it. Still, she said the best part of the Reading Challenge was "getting to see Mr. Zable kiss a pig."

Fifth-grader Katie Grett said she has had fun reading "Harry Potter," but even more fun torturing the principal.

Fourth-grader Cannon Murray said it wasn't just about torture though.

"It encourages us to read and we have fun while we're reading," Murray said. "So I guess you could say we're not really torturing him, because he is teaching us at the same time."

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