The Kyrene Monte Vista Elementary students went above and beyond in the second go-round of their school-wide reading challenge.

Monte Vista principal Helene Zimmerman challenged her students to read a combined 20,000 hours over the course of the year. They had surpassed that number by more than 1,000 hours by April and wound up with a total of nearly 27,000.

“It shows me that when posed with a challenge, the students are willing to rise to the occasion,” Zimmerman said. “It also shows they love having fun and take the opportunity to turn learning into a fun activity.”

She posed the challenge last year and the students came through with about 15,000 of combined reading hours. For beating the goal this year, Zimmerman said the students could choose a reward that she and assistant principal Jason Christ would have to act out in front of the students.

After a round of voting, it was decided that she would dress as a man, and he would dress as a woman on Monday.

“The goal was to have us do something crazy,” Zimmerman said. “I think they got what they wanted.”

After the initial goal had been surpassed, Elaine Villarreal, the school’s secretary who has been there since the opening, said if they tacked on another 5,000 hours by the end of the school year, she would join the fun.

The students hit that number and about 2,000 more, and on Wednesday morning Villarreal had to kiss a pig.

“Elaine has never done anything like it and to get her into this, just pushed the students over the top,” Zimmerman said.

The idea was born last year when Zimmerman worked as a “singing kitchen server” after the hours were totaled. This year the students voted between having the administrators cross-dress, dress as cheerleaders, or as a band combination where Christ would be a drummer and Zimmerman a go-go dancer.

“They just love it,” she said. “We talked about reading regularly throughout the year, gave emphasis on it, and promoted it.”

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