At RES readers rock, principal campsThe healthy reading habits of Rosemount Elementary School students meant one uncomfortable night last week for the school’s principal.
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
The healthy reading habits of Rosemount Elementary School students meant one uncomfortable night last week for the school’s principal.
At the end of September, Tom Idstrom promised RES students that if they spent enough time reading during the school’s annual Reading Rocks fundraiser he would spend a night on the school’s roof. The students kept their end of the bargain, and last Thursday night Idstrom kept his. At the end of the school day he climbed onto the roof with a tent, a lamp and a space heater and set up house for the night. When students showed up for school Friday he was still there, coffee cup in his hand and stocking cap on his head. He greeted them like he usually does — just from a bit higher up — and they called back to him.
“Hi, Mr. Idstrom,” most said.
“Did you really sleep up there?” some asked.
“You rock, Mr. Idstrom,” at least one called.
Idstrom isn’t complaining about the accommodations. As far as he’s concerned, the more than 309,000 minutes the students spent reading during the recently concluded three-week read-a-thon — not to mention the more than $21,000 students raised — was worth a night out in the cold.
“They did great,” Idstrom said after he’d climbed down Friday. “The purpose was really to ramp up the read-a-thon this year because we were intentional about getting rid of some fundraisers.”
In past years RES has raised money with fall sales of wrapping paper and spring sales of frozen foods. Those sales are gone now, and the read-a-thon is the only RES fundraiser that asks directly for money. The school has also had success in recent years collecting money through General Mills’ Box Tops for Education program.
The shift in fundraising focus has some benefits for the school. All of the money raised through the read-a-thon goes directly to the school, and because the school buys its own prizes it can make them more education-related than they might otherwise have been. RES gave top readers Reading Rocks t-shirts and gift certificates to Barnes and Noble, among other prizes. Through a partnership with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the school’s top reader — who read more than 3,000 minutes during the drive — won a suite for 12 at a Timberwolves game.
There are other benefits, too. Sitting down with a good book has more of an educational benefit for students than going door-to-door with wrapping paper.
“It puts an emphasis on reading,” Idstrom said. “If you’re going to raise money, it’s a great way to do it.”
The move to shed some fundraisers was part of the reason Idstrom offered students his challenge. He’s shied away from that kind of big gesture in the past, but in the interest of getting kids excited this year he agreed when a parent suggested the rooftop camp out.
Idstrom didn’t exactly rough it on the roof. He had an extension cord to power a heater, a lamp and a laptop with a wireless Internet connection. And he got plenty of visits from friends.
Students and their parents brought him hot chocolate, Halloween candy, pizza and a Blizzard.
He got so many visits, he hardly had time to read the book he brought up with him.