Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Readers pass goal, send teacher off the plank

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photo by Jeri McLean

Paul Banks Elementary School first-grade teacher Brandon Young, known to the students at Sea Dog Young, cannonballs into a tank of cold water Friday afternoon. It was his way of acknowledging the students completing 12,000 minutes of reading between Jan. 18-Feb. 12.

With 120,000 minutes of reading their goal between Jan. 18 and Feb. 12, the K-2 students at Paul Banks Elementary School not only blew past that target, but forced first-grade teacher Brandon Young to keep his promise and walk the plank.

The students showed Young, known as Seadog Young during the school's month-long read-a-thon, no mercy Friday afternoon. With a strong wind blowing and a tank of cold water waiting, Young stepped out of the school in pirate attire and, one slow step at a time, walked the plank. Halting long enough to congratulate the youngsters on their achievement — 131,045 minutes of reading — Young then cannonballed into the tank. Encouraged by the students' cheers, Young climbed out and repeated the performance, sending a spray of water sloshing onto the ice below.

Among the witnessing student body, faculty, staff and family members, was first-grade teacher and event coordinator Wendy Todd. She said parents and teachers were reporting on the reading progress they witnessed in the past four weeks.

"We have seen tremendous improvements in reading ability and (the students') excitement about reading during this time period," said Todd.

Fundraising activities during the read-a-thon also reflected community-wide enthusiasm for encouraging youngsters to read.

"We had many families and businesses donate items to our auction and sponsor readers," said Todd. "It shows how much the community values reading and supports education."

The effort netted somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000, with more pledges still to be collected. The funds will be used for field trips, books for the school's Bingo For Books event, busing for away-from-school activities and other special projects such as construction of a greenhouse.

Todd encouraged families and friends to use the read-a-thon as a springboard toward an even greater reading awareness.

"To keep encouraging the excitement for reading, model the fun in reading by reading to your children, help them find stories to read that interest them, set a time every day to devote to reading and make this a special time with your child," said Todd.

Individuals with reading and fundraising results of note included:

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