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SD Department of Education April 2015  

  Shave or Save:
Principal and staff put mustaches on the line

Staff and students at Stewart Elementary in Yankton had a “mustache-ulous” time reading during third quarter. Using the Read! SD 20 Minutes – 24/7 pledge, the school geared up for spring assessments with a “Shave or Save” competition. Students logged how many minutes they read, and at the end of the quarter, readers’ votes determined if Principal Jerome Klimisch’s mustache would be shaved or saved. Four other male employees ultimately decided to put their facial hair on the line, too.

“We love to have fun and challenge our students, but it is no coincidence that we are ramping up the reading activities during the third quarter,” said school librarian Kathleen Bergeson. “The testing window is right around the corner. This is the last big effort, and we are making it fun.”

Students were recognized for the minutes they read, and anyone could be a top reader by reading more than 20 minutes a day.

“It is so exciting to see how the kids have embraced this challenge! A parent told me her daughter wanted to race home from dance practice so she could get her reading time in,” Klimisch said. Events were held throughout the quarter to encourage students. On Fridays, reading calendars of students who had read more than 20 minutes a day were placed in a drawing. One top reader from each grade was selected to have their picture taken with Mr. Klimisch and the other participants while sporting their own mustache.

Other activities included the following:

• During the kick-off assembly, Principal Klimisch told his students he was born with his mustache. Then throughout the quarter, he visited classrooms to read Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos.

• All students and staff participated in school-wide Mustache D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) times.

• A friend of the school made t-shirts for adult participants with a READ/mustache logo.

• A display outside the school office challenged students and staff to match names to staff baby pictures with mustaches added.

• Two classes with the highest participation enjoyed a “stache bash,” with milk and mustache cookies and straws, plus mustache games and special guests (the mustache guys).

• The school held a family read-in to celebrate Read Across America.

This isn’t the first time Klimisch and Bergeson have done daring things to encourage students to read. Previously, students read enough books to make a bookworm go around the school, so Klimisch had to eat worms. And when Bergeson asked students to “Stick with Reading,” they earned enough duct tape to stick her to a wall.

The “Shave or Save” challenge culminated at an assembly. Students logged a total of 134,080 minutes of reading. The final vote was 1,608 to 337, in favor of a shave.

During the assembly, the mustaches went, but a couple lightning bolt and Wolverine-style sideburns remained. To conclude the assembly, an additional challenge was presented to students to decide the ultimate fate of Klimisch’s mustache. Students who continued to read through Easter break could vote to “Let it Grow or Let it Go.” Readers’ votes will determine if Klimisch grows his mustache back or keeps it off.

Visit www.ReadSD.com for more information and to access resources for developing your own school-wide reading challenge. Contact Kathleen Bergeson for more information on Shave or Save.

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