Montreal Gazette

Principal gives rooster a peck in support of reading

- CHERYL CORNACCHIA ccornacchi­a@montrealga­

Getting kids to read is not always easy, especially with all the electronic devices vying for their attention.

But last week students at Clearpoint Elementary in Pointe-Claire couldn’t resist their books after their principal Rachel Wilson made a promise she would kiss a rooster if they read a combined 500 hours or 2,000 15-minute units over the course of the week.

Motivated by the prospect that their new principal would have to pucker up for a rooster, the students got excited about reading and did so whenever possible, including during the school day at various reading events, including a special bedtime story, pajama-time.

The 327 students in grades kindergart­en to Grade 6 racked up an impressive 783 hours or 3,125 15-minute reading units. At the same time, they raised $4,500 for the school.

“It was an amazing success,” principal Wilson said Monday, recalling the children’s roar of laughter when she finally did the deed dressed as her favourite storybook character, the Paperbag Princess from the book of the same name by Canadian author Robert Munsch.

“The kids were so excited,” she said. “I kissed him a few times on the crown.”

She said an assembly was held Friday in the school audi- torium so that she could kiss Henry, a pet rooster belonging to grandparen­ts of Michael Germain, one of her Grade 5 students, in front of the whole school.

Denis Germain, Henry’s St-Lazare owner, had prepared her for the big moment by showing her how to hold Henry’s neck just so while she approached to give him a quick peck.

She explained the idea came from Our Principal Promised to Kiss a Pig by Kallis Dakos, a popular children’s picture book in which a principal promises to kiss a pig if her students read 10,000 books.

This month, she said, she visited all 15 of the school’s classes, even the Grade 5 and 6 classes where she read the book in preparatio­n for last week’s event.

“The importance of early literacy and interventi­on is critical,” she said, citing studies that suggest students who are not reading fluently by the end of Grade 2 go on to have increasing difficulti­es at school.

“Literacy is the basis of everything and anything we want to accomplish in life,” said Wilson, who is no stranger to motivating young people.

Before becoming principal at Clearpoint in January, Wilson was a vice-principal at Pointe-Claire’s John Rennie High School where last fall she launched Girls’ Night In, another inspiratio­nal event aimed at empowering young women through sisterhood.

 ?? MARIE FARBER ?? Principal Rachel Wilson makes good on her promise to kiss a rooster with help from the bird’s owner, Denis Germain.
MARIE FARBER Principal Rachel Wilson makes good on her promise to kiss a rooster with help from the bird’s owner, Denis Germain.

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