Portland middle school hopes reading silently proves golden

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PORTLAND — An unusual day at Lyman Moore Middle School is in the books.

Principal Stephen Rogers participated the Principal Challenge, hosted by Pizza Hut’s Book It!, which saw him sit in the school’s main lobby on Nov. 13, reading silently from the moment the first bell rang until the final bell ended the day.

He finished a copy of “Shooting Kabul,” by N.H. Senzai, during the challenge. He said he also read from newspapers and got about halfway through a copy of “No Way Back,” by Andrew Gross. The challenge lasted from 8:25 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

“They’re trying to promote a literacy-rich environment,” Rogers said. “There was no assignment going on, kids were doing it because they wanted to.”

Rogers said that every student came through the lobby at some point to read. He said he saw it as a changing culture about reading, and he sees the challenge as a way to promote reading on an every day basis.

“For me personally it’s important as a role model to show that adults like to read, and if kids see adults reading they see it’s important,” Rogers said. “For meaning, as well as for pleasure.”

Kelly Wallent, a literacy specialist at Lyman Moore, said they were celebrating National Young Readers Week, which is an event co-founded by Pizza Hut and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

“The whole point is to celebrate that we’re a community of readers,” Wallent said.

Throughout the day, teachers would bring their classes into the lobby to sit and read with Rogers. Wallent said there was a technological component to the day also, as students and teachers might use Kindles or iPads instead of physical books. She also said a camera was set up in the lobby to create a time lapse for the day. Additionally, there was a survey put on a screen listing what books were being read.

This is the second year the school has participated in the challenge. Wallent said last year they set up the lobby with a beach theme. This year the decorations were camping-themed, and the decorations were designed by the students.

Rogers said as long as people keep asking him to do it, he’ll keep participating in the challenge.

The prize for the challenge will be 101 copies of the eighth installment of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series for the school library. The winning school will be chosen from a raffle, and the winning principal will receive an autographed copy of the book from author Jeff Kinney.

But Wallent said Lyman Moore wasn’t participating to win anything.

“There are so many different books being read,” Wallent said. “Everyone is engaged in the thinking process.”

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Sidebar Elements

Lyman Moore Middle School Principal Stephen Rogers, center, participates in the “Principal Challenge by Book It!” on Nov. 13. Rogers read all day, from the first bell at 8:25 a.m. until the last bell at 2:30 p.m., and was joined at various time by other members of the faculty and students.

About the challenge

Book It! is the longest running corporate-supported reading incentive in the country. It was started in 1985 by Pizza Hut, and now reaches more than 14 million students a year. The Principal Challenge ran from Nov. 11 until Nov. 15. The winning principal and school will be selected on Nov. 21.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.