Stevenson pupils read for 110,465 minutes over a two-week period as part of the Parents As Reading Partners program, exceeding the initial school-wide goal of 63,690 minutes. According to PTA members Candy Ingwerson (PARP chair) and Mary Martinez (PTA president), this year's theme was "Reading is DINO-MITE" and featured dinosaur-themed scavenger hunts, prizes, classroom contests and free books for every student.
Students were kept apprised of their progress each day by a team of parent volunteers who calculated how many minutes each classroom had read. These totals were compared against goals set at the beginning of the program and the three classes with the highest percentage above their initial goal had the opportunity to attend a fossil dig at the Penn-Dixie site this spring.
The winning classes were Mrs. Sieck's second-graders, who exceeded their goal by 360.38 percent; Mrs. Bax-Waterstrat's kindergartners, who exceeded their goal by 265.74 percent; and Mrs. Leberer's first-graders, who exceeded their goal by 233.08 percent.
In addition to the reward for the top three classes, Mrs. Sieck's class, for the second year in a row, has the highest percentage above their goal and gets the honor of making a mess of the principal, Mr. Michael Cancilla. This marks the third year that Cancilla has stepped up to the plate for the PARP program to encourage the students to read. Last year, he became a human canvas and let the students squirt paint all over him. The canvas backdrop, now signed by every student, hangs proudly in the main school hallway. The year before, Cancilla became a human ice cream sundae and sat in a small swimming pool while students and staff drenched him with syrups, whipped cream, sprinkles and cherries.
"Fostering a lifelong love of learning is the main goal of the PARP program, but getting to make a mess out of your principal isn't a bad incentive either," says Ingwerson.
To get the Stevenson students excited about the PARP program, the PARP Committee led by Ingwerson brought in Rochester author Stu Smith to meet with students in workshop groups for each grade level and to sign copies of his books. Using one of his books - "The Bubblegum Kid" - Smith talked about how stories are conceptualized, written and illustrated. At the end of each grade-level workshop, Smith got the students involved by holding a bubble-blowing contest that had the often-quiet library in an uproar.
The PTA was able to present signed copies of Mr. Smith's books to both the school library and the community library.