Principal promotes reading one plate of slime at a time

STAR PHOTOS/Steve Allison

With mouth wide open, Lincoln Elemetary School principal John Gorton prepares to take a plate of slime in the face at a “I Love to Read Month” event on Thursday. The slime was actually pudding dyed green.

The cheers of the children of Lincoln Elementary School filled the halls on Thursday morning as they watched fellow students slime their Principal, John Gorton.

The sliming was part of “I Love to Read Month,” and a  reward for students who’d met their reading goals.

Gorton, clad in gym shorts, a T-shirt, a clear white poncho and swimming goggles. sat calmly on a metal folding chair in a blue kiddy pool as the students lined up to take their shot. The wooden auditorium floor was covered in plastic while a blue tarp hung directly behind Gorton. 

One by one the students collected their small paper plate that held a glob of slime. Standing behind a yardstick, they took aim.

It wasn’t long before one of the students scored a direct hit to the face. Several slimes to the face later, Gorton experienced his first injury while doing something like this — a nose bleed. He was OK, but for a short time the students were instructed to aim for his body. That didn’t last long because soon Gorton was egging them on.

According to Janice Warn, Lincoln reading specialist, they had thought about making real slime but the recipes called for chemicals and real slime is much more dense and hard than the slime pudding they settled on. The vanilla and lemon pudding was dyed green.

To fill the two five-gallon buckets of slime it took six seven-pound cans of pudding. 

After each student had their turn they were given a sucker, a Dr. Suess book mark and a pencil. Thursday was also Dr. Suess’ birthday.

Once all the students had their turn the cheers turned to chanting, ‘Teachers, Teachers.’ Slowly teachers armed themselves with slime and took aim. 

While each teacher tried their best there was one who broke the rules.

Sixth-grade teacher Paul Yoakam grabbed a huge handful of the slime, ran up and slimed Gorton’s face. The crowd went wild, as cheers and laughter filled the room. 

When all the students were ushered outside the cleanup began. Tarps and plastic were taken down and Gorton attempted to clean up. 

“Yeah, I volunteered. It’s all for the sake of fun and having a fun time for the kids. And it’s a motivation for them to read,” said Gorton. “It gets them involved in the school a little more. It’s all in fun.”

According to Gorton, it also creates memories that the students will carry with them for a long time. 

“John is always a great sport and has done several of these things to promote various things in his school,” said Superintendent Keith Campbell in an email. “I appreciate his support of student learning and his ability to have fun with it.

The sliming was just one of the activities held at the school to encourage reading during I Love to Read Month. The different events include dress up days, hat days, and drop everything and read. 

The reward of sliming the principal was specifically for students who reached their reading point goal as a reward. 

Warn and Anna Matthews,  the school librarian, organized the I Love to Read month events. They began planning in January.

In the past the rewards have included things like a free recess and duct taping Gorton to a wall. 

The third- and fourth-graders had to earn 15 points and the fifth- and sixth-graders had to earn 20 points to slime the principal.

To earn points the students read books and then took a test on the computer.  Not all of the students reached the goal. Only 104 of 282 students were able to participate in the sliming. 

According to Gorton, not having all the students able to participate was his only regret.

“That’s the worst part because obviously the kids enjoy it. They had a good time with it,” said Gorton.