SPARTA, NJ – The students at Sparta’s Alpine Elementary School rose to the challenge of reading 10,000 books in a week. The annual challenge has become a tradition at the school during the Love of Reading week.

Part of the challenge is the reward.  This year Principal Joe Leone and Assistant Principal Pete Miller committed to going into a dunk tank if the students met the goal.

“They actually read 17,000 books,” said Elementary English Language Arts Supervisor Leala Baxter. 

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The week of February 26 through March 4 students participated in several special activities including joining the national initiative Drop Everything and Read on March 2.  On that day students and staff created a living reading train, lining the hallway, said Baxter.

Students were treated to surprise guest readers.  They decorated their classroom doors with literacy themes.  There were buddy reading sessions and Pull the Plug night.  Each day students were invited to dress in their Dr Seuss attire, visit Seussville in physical education class and illustrate Seuss characters in art.

The Cat in the Hat made a special appearance handing out “I love to read” wrist bands or Seuss magnet to each student; a gift from the Alpine PTO.  They also sponsored author Kay Winters’ visit to Alpine School. 

The students have met the challenge, in return, Principal Joe Leone and Assistant Principal Peter Miller went into the dunk tank.  Every student had the chance to throw a ball at the target.  Some teachers donated $1 per ball for the opportunity to try to dunk the administrators. 

When the set the challenge, the administrators were not anticipating the cold weather.

Principal Joe Leone said, "After weeks of anticipation the students were excited to have an opportunity to dunk us.  The water temperature was a bit colder than expected, 49 degrees. We've received a lot of positive feedback from parents about the challenge and how it sparked an interest for reading in many of the students."