Photos courtesy of Jennifer Estes
The excitement was palpable at Hingham’s Plymouth River School Wednesday morning, and not only because there was a pig in the school. This particular pig would be kissing the principal.
Organized by Plymouth River School librarian Diane Hallisey and funded by the Hingham Education Foundation, the “Pig Out on Reading” contest encouraged kids to read a cumulative 300,000 minutes beyond normal class requirements.
The prize? Seeing Principal Chuck Cormier smooch the pot-bellied animal on the snout.
“My librarian typically likes to run reading incentive programs,” Cormier said. “Seven to eight years ago we did the same thing. We thought it was time to bring it back, as all the students who would have experienced it have graduated.”
Students reached the reading threshold a week before the contest officially ended, accumulating the required minutes by Feb. 1.
As a reward, on Wednesday, Daisy the pig and her owner, farmer Paul Minor, showed up at the school. Not only did Cormier kiss the pig, but Vice Principal Melissa Smith and former Vice Principal Dave Whiting also kissed Daisy.
Although the school has done this before, the kissing was a bit more intense this time around, Cormier said.
“It was a bit more realistic this time,” Cormier said with a laugh. “Last time I think I just went up to the side of the pig and kissed him on the side of the snout. This time he had me put a dog biscuit into my mouth…and as you approach it, the pig has been trained to stick out his tongue and get the treat.”
Needless to say, the kids loved it, and especially love the Valentine’s Day act their principal did beforehand, wooing the pig with a box of chocolates.
“They were quite excited. I went on stage with a large Valentine full of chocolate and asked the pig to be my valentine and the kids went crazy about that,” Cormier said.
Two classes – Shawna Reames’s third grade class and Susan Willison’s fourth grade class - were also honored for having achieved the most minutes read.
Students also participated in a bookmark design contest.
Though the event encouraged kids to read outside of their homework assignments, the hope is that programs like these build a sense of camaraderie.
“You get that enthusiasm for reading and a real sense of community when the whole school goes after that goal,” Cormier said