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Reading campaign takes to roof

By Trina Trice

A muggy, wet night on the rooftop of Swint Elementary School is what's in store Principal Frank Rezek and Assistant Principal Doug Lozel.

The outrageous act is a sign of appreciation for students who have successfully participated in the school's 25-Book Reading campaign.

Swint Elementary School, a Georgia's Choice school, like many other county elementary schools are using the campaign to increase and improve reading interest and skills in students.

So far, more than 550 out of 820 students have read 25 or more books since the beginning of the school year.

Last year approximately 380 students participated.

"A Georgia's Choice school, one of the components is that children read 25 books plus," said Toni Wilkerson, literacy coach. "Based on research, students who read one million words do better at school."

Fifth-grade teacher and the school's Teacher of the Year Barbara Harris supports the program adamantly.

"You have to be consistent with" the students, Harris said. "I provide opportunities in class to read and chances to go to the library. I read aloud in class everyday. I get information that's interesting to them about" various books. "I really make them stick with it."

Harris is proud that every student in her class has met or surpassed the 25-book mandate.

Student Denzel Flemmings has read more than 55 books.

"He is an avid reader. The books he reads are deep-thought provoking and all on his level," Harris said.

Two other Harris students Mynisha Carter and Simon Bryant have read 37 books and 28 books, respectively.

Carter, whose favorite book is "Starring Sally J. Freeman" by Judy Blume, said about her love for reading, "Our teachers are encouraging us to read and they're giving us books that are real interesting."

About Bryant, Harris said, "He is the most improved child because of his reading, he's become an excellent writer. Good readers are good writers, and good writers are good readers.

Bryant's favorite book is "Holes," "Because of the excitement and how they all have their own way of dealing with things," he said.

To reward the students for their efforts, Rezek and Lozel have agreed to spend the night on the school's roof Thursday night.

Despite recent bad weather, Lozel said he's ready and prepared with music, a cooler full of snacks, and a principal cam to document the event.

"We'd love to have all of our children reading, so we want to give them more incentives to read."

The school's top readers will get to pick from a large assortment of stuffed animals purchased by Lozel, inspired by the county library system's vacation reading theme "Books Ahoy."

Following a spaghetti dinner Thursday, physical education teacher Paul Scott kissed a pig, keeping good on a promise he made last year.

Scott told students he'd kiss a pig if they raised more than $2,000 for Relay for Life, an annual event for cancer awareness. Students raised $2,250.

Other rewards for the book reading campaign included a recent breakfast sponsored by the Jonesboro Kroger, the school's Partner in Education.