Principal Chows Down on Fried Worms to Promote Reading

By Ryan Moran, Principal of Bloomsburg Memorial Elementary  

The things principals do these days to promote books and make reading more appetizing for students just keeps getting more funky – and flavorful.

To promote reading during his school’s Book Fair, Ryan Moran, the principal of Bloomsburg Memorial Elementary in Bloomsburg, Pa., feasted on a plate of fried worms, bell peppers, and onions as more than 400 wide-eyed and gasping students looked on in disbelief.

Moran's earthworm chow-down was the culmination of a reading contest that challenged students to tally 150,000 minutes of reading time over four weeks leading up to the school’s Book Fair. In keeping with the Book Fair's theme, "Take a Reading Road Trip," students logged one mile for every minute of reading time.

A news crew from the local TV station was on hand to film the slithering gastronomical smorgasbord, and footage of the worm-fest aired the same day on its nightly newscast.

The Fair’s chief promoter, the "5th Grade Road Crew" (assisted by classroom paraprofessional Amelia Blackledge, winner of Scholastic Book Fairs spring 2008 national contest), tracked the daily reading mileage by tracing out distances on a giant map of the United States hanging in the school gym. Students eventually doubled the reading goal, amassing 300,000 minutes and traveling 300,000 miles throughout the country. The Road Crew provided daily progress reports via the school’s closed circuit TV system.

"When you make reading fun for students, it makes it easier for them to pick up a book," said Moran. "If you enjoy doing something, you’re likely to be successful at it. Reading is something you need for everyday life. Whether you’re looking at a road sign, glancing at a newspaper, or learning in the classroom, reading is truly the route to success."

And what about the Worm-Plate Special? Did Moran experience any digestive upset after noshing on the eely invertebrates?

"I definitely felt a little queasy the rest of the day," Moran admitted. "The live worms went down easily, but the fried ones were difficult to eat because they were so hard to chew."
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