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Principal Kicks Off Roanoke Reading Week

The annual tradition is a favorite for kids, embracing learning and fun.

It's time again for Roanoke Elementary School Principal Tom Payton to get seriously silly about reading -- with a challenge to his students.

On Friday, Payton, known for his reading week challenges, held an assembly at the elementary school to kick off the annual Roanoke Reading Week festivities.

Known for his challenges to students -- one year, Payton told students if they met his challenge, he'd let them "pie" him in the face; they won -- Payton had an "A-Maze-ing" challenge for kids this year.

"If you meet my challenge and read for 65,000 minutes outside school during the week," he challenged, "on Friday, March 8, on the Roanoke field, at 2:30 p.m., I will walk blindfolded through a human maze of Roanoke students, and you will get to spray me with silly string or do whatever wacky trick you can devise as I walk through the maze," he said.

The concept had kids laughing, applauding -- and gearing up to get busy reading.

"Reading Weeks are a great vehicle to promote the love of reading and the use of the library," Payton said. "The kids love them, and I don't mind taking a pie in the face, getting a buzz cut, or walking blindfolded through a maze of students if it helps them learn to read."

Every day this week, Roanoke students are slated to participate in a theme. Monday's theme was "Read a T-Shirt Day' and Dr. Seuss' Birthday Read Aloud. Tuesday's theme is Team Up and Read Day, with students wearing team jerseys; Wednesday marks a Hats Off to Reading Day, Thursday is slated to feature a Poem in Your Pocket Day, with a Reading Read-About at 2:30, and an Friday, it's Curl Up with A Good Book Day -- with a READ assembly.

Last year, Payton addressed students wearing a maroon cape and told them they had read 61,000 minutes in four days. He then had his long hair buzz cut while students in grades K through 4 laughed and chanted, "Read, read, read."

And that's what it read, on the side of Payton's shaved head: "Read."

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