Fremont Elementary School students Stella Ingles, left, Braden Hayes, Addison Berry and Anthony Lopez (back), with the help of fifth grade teacher Steve Vradenburg, slime Vice Principal Cheryl Richetta, left, and Principal Jennifer Ward-DeJoseph on Friday as part of their reward for reading more than 50,000 minutes as part of National School Reading Week that took place March 1 to 5. (Photo: Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal)
Three million words and 50,000 minutes’ worth of reading. That’s all it took to get some principals and vice principals slimed and grooving on Friday, and the students at Fremont and Empire elementary schools loved it.
Fremont Principal Jennifer Ward-DeJoseph, Vice Principal Cheryl Richetta and some of their staff members already looked pretty green after one sliming in the morning, but they were prepared to do six throughout the day for their students to celebrate the student body’s completion of 50,000 minutes for Reading Week earlier this month.
The rewards for the two schools tracking their student reading for the week were just some of the unusual choices some students had in mind, but the district as a whole was proud to see its youth engaged in reading.
Fremont’s sliming of its top two administrators created a mess early in its multipurpose room.
“It was really disgusting!” Richetta said after her first sliming, which consisted of applesauce and green dye, prepared in multiple buckets by staff members Becky McGee and Steve Vradenburg.
Richetta said her own son was determined to be a part of the program, too.
“My own son who’s in the fifth grade was very motivated to read because he wanted to be able to slime me, and he got chosen so he gets to slime me,” she said.
Over at Empire, the activities were a little more musical. The children’s celebration of choice for reading 3 million words – well above their original goal of 1 million at first, then hitting 2 million – was a danceoff between himself and Principal Susan Squires.
“I’d like to say it was our dancing (that motivated them), but once they see us today, that might change our minds,” Empire Vice Principal Nathan Brigham said jokingly. “Kids are no different than anybody else when you have a set goal and set rewards.”
It seemed an entertaining prospect, considering himself musically challenged, he joked.
“Dancing is not one of my many talents,” he said with a laugh. “So the kids think it’s great and it’s a good way for the two of us to make fools of ourselves and give the kids something to talk about and celebrate.”
The “Masters of Dance Disaster” lit up Empire’s multipurpose room and made their students happy showing off their rehearsed moves to “YMCA,” “Shut Up and Dance,” “U Can’t Touch This” and other recognizable jams. At Empire, ultimately, students voted in favor of Squires with Brigham ceding to her as the winner.
Empire’s students also were allowed a pajama and movie day for reaching the 3 million mark.
Squires said the return to school for the younger students has been a positive influence on effort and behavior.
“They’re resilient, and they’re excited to be back,” she said.
Superintendent Richard Stokes also watched Empire’s danceoff and said it was rewarding to see the kids enjoying their prize as an incentive for reading.
“What a great way to have fun at school and to celebrate such a great achievement,” Stokes said.
Ward-DeJoseph said much of the success at Fremont came from the creativity of her staff to be inventive during COVID-19. Her staff combined classes through Zoom for guest reading times for students to join together.
“The kids loved it, we had guest readers, the mayor read on ZOOM, we had some from news stations read, we had cheerleaders from (the University of Nevada, Reno),” she said. “The passion was just really there from my staff. … It was just a hit.”
Other Carson City schools to participate in reading challenges last week included Bordewich Bray Elementary, Fritsch Elementary, Mark Twain Elementary and Seeliger Elementary. The sites held special dress-up days and other fun activities to encourage students to read.