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Reading challenge brings a dancing chicken to Oysterponds


Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because Oysterponds Elementary School students read a combined 310 books in one month.

Principal Jennifer Wissemann challenged the district’s K-6 grade students to read more than 300 books starting May 8 and ending last week, saying that if they surpassed the number she would wear a chicken suit for the entire day June 15.

“It’s very impressive,” she said of the students’ achievement. “Anything you can do to get that love of reading and make it fun. It’s something as the new principal I’d like to keep going.”

The children took the bet seriously and were rewarded not only with seeing their principal dress as a farm animal, but also with a school-wide chicken dance in the gymnasium before they got on the bus.

To ensure the children actually read the books, they had to visit Ms. Wissemann in her office once they completed one and share a little bit about what they read, she said. Art teacher Laurie Sanders provided a huge basket and over 300 plastic eggs, so each time a student met with Ms. Wissemann they placed an egg in the basket.

“She played a huge role,” Ms. Wissemann said of Ms. Sanders, who also created a barn hanging in the hallways that describes the reading challenge. “It was a real collaboration here.”

Ms. Wissemann said she got the idea from a teacher in Rhode Island who dons the chicken suit for her district’s reading challenge every year. She added that the teacher has gone as far as eating a chocolate covered bug.

The Oysterponds principal plans on sticking with the chicken suit for now, especially since it went over so well with the students, who begged Ms. Wissemann to follow them to the buses and act as the crossing guard that afternoon. One student even asked if she could take the suit home herself.

“They were really thrilled,” Ms. Wissemann said. “I was waiting for them when they got off the bus this morning. I went out and waved to everyone and the people being dropped off. So it was super fun.”

Look below for more photos of the celebration.

Photo Caption: Principal Jennifer Wissemann, center, donned a chicken suit Wednesday to celebrate the Oysterponds Elementary School students reading over 300 books in one month. (Photos: Nicole Smith)

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