One summer, 2,066 books: Hardyston students cover their principal in delicious toppings

Hardyston. Each year their school librarian sets the reading challenge goal and talks the principal into doing “something crazy” to inspire students to meet it.

| 26 Oct 2021 | 03:09

Hardyston elementary school students were challenged to read 2,021 books over the summer. They exceeded that goal, reading 2,066 books in all, and got what they most wanted: to turn their principal into an ice cream cone.

Each year their school librarian, Sue Ploch, sets the goal and talks the principal, Jennifer Cimaglia, into doing “something crazy” that will inspire students to meet their goal.

In June, the students learn what Mrs. Ploch has in store for Principal Cimaglia. Once school begins in September, the victorious students start asking when they’ll get their due. “I can’t tell you how many times kids asked me if I was ready to be an ice cream sundae,” said Cimaglia.

At the Oct. 13 celebration, the 95 reading challenge participants covered their principal with chocolate and strawberry syrup, sprinkles, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries.

This was the first time first-grader Charlotte Herrmann participated in the challenge. “I read 70 books because I wanted to put whipped cream on you so bad,” she said.

Charlotte and her mom practiced working the whipped cream so that she was ready for celebration day. “It was really fun, and I would probably read over next summer too,” Charlotte said. Students who didn’t participate were overheard saying maybe they will read next summer.

Cimaglia told students that when she was a little girl, she would read every night before bed, “or when I should have been sleeping.”

“I still read now as an adult,” she said. “Falling in love with reading is so important, so it is something we focus on a lot here.” She said grades one through four participate in the challenge, the ages when good reading habits form. This summer was the reading challenge’s fifth season.

“If I have to turn into a sticky ice cream sundae to help instill a love of reading with my students, I will happily do it,” Cimaglia said.

She might just have had more fun than the kids. She’s looking forward to next year, to see what her next task will be.

“If I have to turn into a sticky ice cream sundae to help instill a love of reading with my students, I will happily do it.” Principal Jennifer Cimaglia