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[whitespace] Rooftop principal is prize in unusual challenge

Sunnyvale--Last Wednesday afternoon, principal Lorraine Moore sat under a blue umbrella on the roof of Braly Elementary School with a red bullhorn, wearing sunglasses and a visor. The first-grade classes filed out to the strip of grass surrounding the flagpole, and Moore called down to them, asking them to vote on the book she would read through her bullhorn.

Moore's curious positioning was her response to a November challenge, in which she told her students she'd spend a day on the roof if they read more than 20,000 books throughout the year.

They did. The school exceeded the bar last week by reading 22,475 books, and Moore obediently and enthusiastically spent the day in the bright sunshine reading books through her bullhorn to classes seated on the grass below.

"I think that what we're really about, and the most important thing is to provide [students] with is the maximum amount of choices," Moore said. "And the primary criteria for that is literacy. Everything else hinges on that, and it has to be in place."

Moore posed the challenge during Braly's "VIP Reading Week," when guest speakers come to the school to read to students, classes have reading pajama parties, and the school promotes reading skills.

"As a school, our philosophy is that we want students to be intrinsically motivated," Moore said. "Instead of giving them erasers or stickers, we want them to understand that reading is the reward in itself. But that doesn't mean we don't acknowledge their accomplishments."

Braly teachers kept a monthly tally on the number of books their students read, which the staff compiled each month to chart progress.

"Every time I'd walk into classes, kids would come up to me and tell me all the books they had read and point them out to me," Moore said.

Third-grade teacher Gaye Renna kept a world map and cut-outs of the planets across one panel of her room with a sign that read "Reading Jogs the Mind" and numbers spaced across the display. Each student placed footprints at each number marker as they read the corresponding amount of books throughout the year.

"The kids were really motivated," Renna said. "There's a new marquee in front of the school and every month they'd post the number of books read. I think the challenge really helped."

To further commemorate the occasion, the school piped the Drifters' song "Up on the Roof" through the classrooms in the morning. An announcement followed stating that Moore was officially on the roof. Then the entire school assembled by the flagpole for the pledge of allegiance and the school song.

Third grader Barbara Desgroux and other students excitedly talked of their principal up on the roof because of all the reading they did throughout the year.

"It's amazing that your school principal can go up there and read a book," Desgroux said. "It was really fun and cool."
Kelly Wilkinson

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