Barringer Road Elementary School principal Aaron Cary kept his word and camped out overnight in the traffic circle in front of the school on Thursday, May 12.
In line with this year's PARP (Pick a Reading Partner) theme, "Camp Out with a Good Book," Mr. Carey had promised his students that he would sleep under the stars if they met his PARP reading goal of 30,000 minutes in a week. The students rose to the challenge, reading a combined 34,027 minutes.
Barringer Road Elementary paired up with The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Mohawk Valley to involve students with the campout. The Grand staff provided s'more goodie bags, complete with Teddy Grahams, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and M&Ms. Mr. Carey handed out a goodie bag to about 200 visitors who drove, rode bikes or walked through to say hello.
"I put the tent up in the morning so the kids would get excited," he said.
He donned his flannel pajama pants and headed to the campsite around 5:30.
From 6 to 8 p.m., he spoke to students and their families and handed out s'more bags. He settled in for his night soon after dark. His sleep would soon be interrupted. Around 11 p.m. there came a knock on the tent.
"There was this tapping on the tent and a voice asking, 'Is anyone in there?' It was the police," said Mr. Carey.
"I had forgotten to notify them in advance and they were checking on our property."
He apologized and soon drifted back to sleep, but not for long.
"I woke up at 3 a.m. with the birds chirping; who knew the birds woke up at 3 a.m.?" he laughed.
After a night of little sleep, he was back on the job the next morning. It may not have been perfect, but he felt that it was all worth it. He had made a promise and had kept it. He hopes his actions help model that, as students and adults, it is important that we do what we say. The challenge also showed what people can do.
"I'm really proud of our school community," he said.
"And to our students, don't stop! Keep reading! We read more than 30,000 minutes as a group. It's amazing what we can accomplish together."
PARP is a program that asks a partner (parent, grandparent, babysitter, older sibling, cousin, friend, etc.) to read with a child for at least 20 minutes daily. The choice of reading materials can include anything with printed words. PARP is a program that cements the necessary bond between the home and the school to encourage a love of reading in our children.