Sue Kiesewetter reports:
J. F. Burns Elementary School principal Cheryl Montag is preparing for a long walk Friday – her longest since she began challenging her students to read in what has been dubbed the Laps for Literacy initiative.For the 14th consecutive year this Deerfield Township principal challenged her students – and staff – to read for fun. In exchange Montag walks laps around Landen Lake in proportion to the minutes read between January and April – about 150,000 minutes for each lap.
This year a school record was broken. Nearly 1,274,000 minutes were read in that four month period this year. Montag is hoping for good weather as she mentally and physically prepares for this year’s walk.
Each lap is the equivalent to between 2.75 and 3 miles. Montag is preparing for an eight-lap walk, approaching 24 miles.
“I might have to jog a few to to get them all in, in one day,’’ the principal quipped. “This year we had exactly 1,273,817 minutes – including staff minutes.”
Montag won’t be alone on her walk. The students in the classroom in each grade that accumulated the most minutes will accompany her on part of her walk.
Kings Superintendent Valerie Browning, assistant superintendent Tina Blair and the top readers in each grade level will accompany her on the first lap. Those students are Maniya Loganathan, kindergarten; Lydia Back, first grade; Cody Powell, second grade; Blake Powell, third grade; and Emma Pratt, fourth grade.
The classrooms that accumulated the most minutes were those of: Robin Reitz, kindergarten; Kelly Sova, first grade; Kim Tuggle, second grade; Susan Waugh, third grade; and Jenny Bowman, fourth grade.
The first lap follows the 9 a.m. sendoff, during which all 627 students and staff form a human tunnel Montag will travel through before her walk begins.
“I do this because we want our children to love reading,’’ said Montag. “Each month we give out books for our top readers plus the top classroom.”
There is also a fundraising component to the race. The school’s parent teacher group has set up a pink lemonade stand that will be manned by students and adults. Proceeds from the sale will be given to the Angie Niemann Foundation. She is a preschool teacher at the school who is undergoing breast cancer treatment.
“This is the second year we’ve done this,’’ Montag said. “Last year we gave the money to two kids with cancer.”
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