RANCHESTER — Tongue River Elementary School Principal Deb Hofmeier spent last night outdoors after issuing a challenge to her students on the last day of school this past spring.
“Our summer reading challenge for our kids was, if they could collectively read and record 50,000 minutes this summer I would sleep on the school roof,” Hofmeier said. “For every 10,000 minutes over their goal, we decided we would have a teacher join me.”
The students recorded 60,583 minutes of reading over the summer. That meant second-grade teacher Jesse Hinkhouse, who first floated the idea of sleeping on the roof, was relegated to a night outside on the roof as well.
“I’ve got my sleeping bag, I’ve got my flannel jammies and I’ve got my long socks,” Hofmeier said Monday afternoon. “It’s going to be a long night but I am ready.”
Hofmeier said having the offer of sleeping on the roof really inspired the students to increase their summer reading. She said that participation more than doubled, with last year’s reading total coming in under 20,000 minutes.
“It doubled our numbers, easily,” she said.
“The kids are really excited about it,” she added. “They keep asking, ‘What if crows carry you away? What if a bat bites you? What if a snake is up there? What if you roll over and fall off the top?’ They’ve been quite intrigued by the whole thing.”
Hofmeier and Hinkhouse began their rooftop adventure after school on Monday afternoon, waving to students from the roof as they departed classes and boarded busses. Some students said they would be stopping by during the evening to check on Hofmeier and Hinkhouse to make sure they kept their end of the bargain.
In addition, students who participated in the reading challenge were set to join the pair on the school’s roof for donuts and juice this morning.
The top three readers of the summer challenge were Zia Robbins with 7,000 minutes, Jessie Purdum with 3,748 minutes and Alex McIntyre with 3,008 minutes. They each received Walmart gift cards to recognize their achievement.