Last updated: July 24. 2013 1:16PM - 95 Views

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PDT Staff Writer

McDERMOTT— Scott Martin, principal of Northwest Elementary School, has proven himself to be a man of his word after promising his students to kiss a pig if they read 20,000 books. The students exceeded Martin’s expectation, reading 25,041 books school-wide. On Thursday, Martin and Assistant Principal Mike Armstrong both experienced a kiss of a lifetime when they kissed a pig in front of more than 900 students at the school. The crowd roared as the pig entered the gymnasium, the students sat anxiously waiting to see the kiss they’d worked so hard to behold.

The pig kissing was the result of the Online Accelerated Reader Program, which Martin implemented at his school building at the beginning of the school year.

“My challenge to my students was to read 20,000 books. I told them if you read this number of books, then I will kiss a pig, and they took off, and went well over that number. They got so excited. We even got the kindergarten engaged in the program.”

“My inspiration was to see the kids excited about reading. I wanted them to become so excited about reading that whenever they had private time, their first thoughts would be to grab a book, versus a video game. I wanted to change the culture,” Martin said.

He said it was a concerted effort from the beginning of the school year.

“I also had them to come in and take every book that we have, re-label everything and have it funneled through the computer, so every time they read a book in this school it’s testable, and connected into the computer. It took several weeks to get all of those books done. It was a committed effort, but when it was done — well, you see the results,” Martin said.

At the inception of the program, the rewards to the students for reading for the Online Accelerated Reader Program began as a star which bore the words, “Mohawk Star Reader.” Since then it has evolved into “Lunch with the Principal.” Martin said he also has hosted pizza parties for the students.

“I just finished my last pizza party the other day,” he said.

Martin had a drawing with each of the students’ names, and numerous prizes were given out to the winners, including two new bicycles. Cade Powell, a fifth-grader, and Breon Conley, a fourth-grader, were the winners of the bicycles.

Martin was optimistic and predicted his students would continue to excel in reading. He also said he would have to be very creative for his next challenge to the students.

Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 234, or portiawilliams@heartlandpublications.com.

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