Splish splash… wave of reading overtakes Oroville Elementary

Oroville Elementary Principal Gary Pringle gets a bucket of water dumped over his head as a reward to the students who read 7,621 books in the Principal’s Challenge. Submitted photo

Oroville Elementary Principal Gary Pringle gets a bucket of water dumped over his head as a reward to the students who read 7,621 books in the Principal’s Challenge. Submitted photo

OROVILLE – February has been a reading frenzy month for the last ten years at Oroville Elementary School as it is the month of the Principal’s Reading Challenge.

For the challenge, a goal is set for a specific number of books with a built-in rewards schedule. Each year, our students amaze us with their accomplishments. This year, students broke all previous records, reading a grand total of 7,621 books over 28 days (and only 18 of those were school days). Gary Pringle, the elementary principal, agreed to get soaked if students managed to read just 5,000 books. Students loved the idea and definitely rose to the challenge.

The amount of reading a child does influences his or her gains in reading ability. The more they read, the more students grow as readers. Yet, it is not just the amount of reading that makes the difference; it is the amount of reading at the right level. All students were asked to read, and to prove that they were truly reading, they need to pass the Accelerated Reader® quiz for the book. Students in second grade and up had to choose books within their reading range, as determined by our winter testing. So, not only did students read, they read at the right level, they read lots and they had fun!

On March 11, the students’ accomplishments were rewarded. The day started with an assembly in the gym where students in the classes that read the most books competed with each other in a coconut-bowling match. Sixth grade students helped John Ragsdale, the PE teacher, decorate bowling pins to look like pineapples and students bowled with real coconuts until they cracked open, then continued the match with bowling balls. Dan Vassar’s third graders, who read the most books in the whole school – 1,183 books, competed with Cheri Wahl’s second graders, who read whopping 1,152 books. Patricia Dagon’s fourth grade class, which read 522 books and Kelly King’s fourth grade class, which read 510 books, had a great time bowling as well. The other students enjoyed the matches immensely, cheering for their favorite “team” and laughing as the coconuts wobbled across the gym floor. Principle Pringle, who had to spend the day dressed for a day at the beach, invited superintendent Steve Quick to bowl a frame at the end of the assembly.

The students were further rewarded with a movie and popcorn. Younger students enjoyed watching Snow Buddies. Older students were treated to a showing of Nim’s Island, with a special message from Wendy Orr, the author of the book the movie was based on. Heather Ayris Burnell, local author and the parent of an elementary student, contacted Orr and received a reply congratulating our students on their accomplishment.

At the end of the day, students returned to the gym to find Principal Pringle lounging in a kiddy pool, waiting for the grand finale. We had hoped to find a dunk tank, but the students were just as excited to have a choice between popping a water balloon on Mr. Pringle’s head or dumping a bucket of water over him. After trying to sink a basket to earn the chance to soak the principal, those selected students were cheered on by the entire student body, staff and parents who had stopped by to enjoy the fun. Pringle, teeth chattering, congratulated the students on a job well done and praised their behavior for the day and their reading efforts. We can only wonder what next year’s Challenge will inspire our kids to achieve.