By Scott Bolthouse
Brown Elementary School Principal Cory Pengelly had a relatively easy commute to school Wednesday morning in New Boston.
His commute was worth only about a couple dozen steps to the front door from where he slept, to be exact.
Pengelly, who has been the principal at Brown for three years, camped overnight on the school’s front lawn to honor a promise he made to his over 500 school students about a month ago.
At the beginning of March, Pengelly promised that if Brown’s students logged 150,000 reading minutes through Easter break, he would set up camp on the front lawn of the school and spend one night outside.
“It was chilly, but perfect sleeping weather,” Pengelly said as he stood at his camp site on a beautiful Wednesday morning just as students were arriving for the day.
By the time the camping-themed reading challenge was over, Brown’s students logged nearly 300,000 reading minutes — double that of the original goal.
“The staff here at Brown really pushed their students to reach the goal,” he said.
“It was a good team effort.”
Fourth grade student Liam Hilliker, 10, who enjoys reading Sherlock Holmes novels, was one of the top readers at the school during the challenge.
Hilliker said that the camping idea helped kick his reading habits into high gear, because he really wanted to see his principal camp out on the front lawn
“I think it was a really creative idea,” he said.
Another top reacher during the challenge was Julia Petrut, 9, also in fourth grade.
Her thoughts on the principal’s camp night were short and sweet.
“I think it was cool,” she said.
At the end of the challenge, Kimberly Downey’s fourth grade class at Brown earned the honor of having the highest totaled reading minutes in the school.
Pengelly said that during his stay, he read for a couple of hours and a handful of students stopped by to give him some snacks to help him get through the night.
“I sat in a chair yesterday afternoon and read for about an hour and a half and went to bed at about 11:15 — it was a good night,” he said.