Dancing on the roof in Bethel Park

Published Jun 13, 2014 at 2:19 pm (Updated Jun 13, 2014 at 2:19 pm)

A few moments before 10 teachers climbed to the roof of the William Penn Elementary School in the Bethel Park School District June 11 to fulfill a promise to the more than 200 students made as a challenge to read, the rain stopped, the skies cleared and the students cheered.

In February, the students began a two-month reading program, “Reading to New Heights,” where teachers challenged the students to read for almost 100,500 minutes, or 1,674 hours. Not only did the students collectively read more than 1,000 hours, they tripled the amount to more than 4,000 hours.

As promised, the teachers took to the roof in the hot sunshine, all wearing the school colors of black and orange, where they danced to a few songs, including “Eye of the Tiger.” Toward the end of the choreographed routines, the teachers shot colored confetti from the roof of the one-story brick school, much to the delight of the students gathered below.

Several mothers stood on the hill beside the school and watched. One was Tyann Neal, who has four children. Her youngest two – Abigail Neal in the third grade, and Sarah Neal in kindergarten – are students at William Penn. The event was the first on the school roof in Neal’s memory.

“It was to encourage them to read,” she said as she stood with other mothers. “Typically they have a Read-A-Thon to raise money and this was tied to that.”

During the two-month program, each classroom was assigned a weekly reading goal, and if the students met that goal, a paper likeness of the teacher was moved up one rung on a ladder in the classroom. Each week the goal was met, the teacher moved one rung closer to the school’s roof.

The event ended as school buses entered the front circle and the students, still cheering, were ushered inside to prepare for dismissal.

The last day of school for students was June 13.

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