Marley Elementary School students pool their reading efforts, soak the principals

December 29, 1997|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

After 300 Marley Elementary school students spent about 1,000 hours reading in their spare time this semester, some got a treat: drenching the principal and assistant principal in front of all their classmates.

"It was a humbling experience, to say the least. We managed to suffer through it," said Assistant Principal Timothy Merritt about the hose-off Nov. 21 of himself and Principal Nina Griffith.

"But my belief is that anything we can do to motivate children to read is well worth it," he said.

The hosing was part of a yearlong program at the Glen Burnie school to encourage children to read for the fun of it.

Next semester, reading resource teacher Donna Redmond wants to bring in an author for a school assembly.

Kaitlin Sanders, a 7-year-old third-grader, was one of those who doused her principal. "I felt happy and scared, because I've never done it before and it was funny to see Mrs. Griffith wet.

"I was scared because I didn't know actually what we were going to do. I had to stand up in front of a whole lot of people."

Afterward, "I felt proud, because I wanted to do it, but I didn't think I was going to be able to," she said.

She spent 300 minutes reading "Snow White," two "Babysitter Club" books and "Amelia's Notebooks," a new series of children's books in which a girl writes a journal about moving away from her best friend.

This program had no impact on statewide reading test scores, but some services may have: Volunteers come in an hour a week to tutor youngsters in reading, and a reading resource teacher goes from one classroom to another helping the staff teach students.

In the 1996-1997 school year, 36.2 percent of third-graders tested showed they read at a satisfactory level -- an increase from 1995-1996, when only 29.5 percent performed satisfactorily.

Fifth-graders showed a drop: More than 28 percent read satisfactorily in 1996-1997, while 41.4 percent did in 1995-1996.

The goal of the leisure reading wasn't to boost scores but to boost students' interest in books. Still, Redmond said, "Statistics show the more you read, the better you read."

Pub Date: 12/29/97

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