Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 3:43 PM on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reading pays pignapping ransom

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photographer: McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

Paul Banks Principal Benny Abraham welcomes Guinevere the pig with a kiss. Guinevere is held Melissa Clark of the 4H Trailblazer Club.

Learning to read can be a huge mountain to climb when seen through the eyes of a just-getting-started preschooler. It also can be the door to success and a lot of fun, as was the case during Paul Banks Elementary School's recent readathon.

"Saddle up and read" was the theme for the event that began in January when, during a school assembly, two masked rustlers stole Guinevere the pig and held her for ransom.

To guarantee the pig's return, students had to read — or have read to them, as the case might be — 100,000 minutes by the time the readathon came to a close last Friday.

The goal of the readathon was, first, to encourage reading. Secondly, through pledges and other reading-related events, it raised funds for bus transportation on the school's annual Beach Day, programs held at the Mariner Theatre, visits to the Pratt Museum and other field trips, as well as helping cover the cost of equipment and technology for the school and, of course, new books.

Student-made signs posted around the school offered rewards for the pignappers with various dollar amounts promised.

Even greater incentive for guaranteeing the pigs' return, however, was Principal Benny Abraham's promise that come Feb. 24, if the students had read the targeted amount and the pig was safely returned, he would plant a kiss on the porker's snout.

Good enough. The students were hard at work this past month, their hearts set on seeing Guinevere back home and Abraham welcoming her with a kiss.

At an assembly Friday afternoon, Abraham announced the results.

"You read 176,000 minutes," he told the students, many of them wearing cowboy hats and boots in keeping with the readathon theme.

"That's 40,000 minutes more than last year."

The students cheered their own success, then cheered again when Abraham announced the missing pig had been spotted.

Once..twice..three times the students and Abraham issued a special pig call, and in walked Melissa Clark of the 4H Trailblazer Club with Guinevere held safely in her arms.

Good to his word and with the students chanting "Kiss the pig. Kiss the pig," Abraham did just that, followed by several teachers who also has promised to seal the pig's return with additional kisses.

Wrapping up the assembly, the lassoed pignappers were led into the gym. Once secured behind bars, their identity was made known. They were none other than Kristine Berrios and Sally Burns, special services teachers.

In addition to the boost to student reading, the readathon also netted $5,770.

"They had such a good time," said Abraham of students participating in the readathon.

"This time of year you need that boost to keep the interest up and this has just been really great."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben. jackinsky@homernews.com