MORGANTOWN — It’s hard not to get at least a little jaded when you’re a fifth-grader.
Heck, you’ve pretty much seen it all at that point. You know all the storylines, all the characters.
You generally know how the book is going to end.
Then, a day like Thursday comes around at Mountainview Elementary School.
And Angela Dickerson is sitting at her desk and saying, “Well, it’s going to be interesting.”
But that’s jumping ahead of the narrative just a bit. We’ll come back around shortly.
In the meantime, storylines, characters and book endings (and beginnings) had everything to do with the proceedings on this day at Mountainview.
Dickerson is principal of the school on Green Bag Road that houses 750 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
A little before the last day of school last June, Dickerson and Mountainview’s academic coach Susie Kronowski came up with a challenge.
Read 20 chapter books over summer break, the pair said, and your principal will kiss a pig.
Kronowski: “We said that.”
Dickerson: “Yes, we did.”
And a good 250 of Mountainview’s student body answered in kind.
“And now I have to kiss a pig,” the principal said.
Which is where Mylee came in.
This little piggie went to school
Mylee, an American mini-pig (not to be confused with the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, as their size is smaller and their hair darker), sidled up for the cause.
She was done out in a purple tutu for the occasion, and, like the principal, seemed to be a good sport about the whole thing.
The pig is the pet of Ashley Rowe, of Morgantown, who couldn’t be there. Ashley’s mom, Tracy, though, was.
Mylee’s grandma (of sorts) said the oinker is an agreeable sort who actually lived inside in her daughter’s apartment for a time, where she wagged her tail when she was happy and scratched at the door when she needed to go out.
Just like a porcine-canine, Tracy Rowe said.
“That’s pretty amazing how that works.”
Dickerson and Kronowski, meanwhile, said they never fail to be amazed at the power of a good book.
Something about those printed words on a page, both said, no matter the delivery system.
Attending the pig-kissing assembly were the students who met the reading challenge.
As an opening act, Dickerson, who began her career in education as an elementary school teacher, read aloud Mo Willems’ “Elephants Make Me Sneeze.”
The book for young readers is the latest installment in a series featuring the misadventures of Gerald, a slightly neurotic elephant and his best friend, Piggie the Pig (who lets Gerald do the worrying for them both).
The principal is ready for her close-up
Mylee, resplendent in her tutu, was led in, with her tail wagging and her snout sniffing the air.
“Oh, boy,” the principal said, before placing a tentative peck on the top of Mylee’s head.
Wait, called someone with a smartphone camera. The angle was wrong.
So, they did it again.
Wait, called someone else with a smartphone camera. Principal Dickerson’s hair was in the way.
So they did it again. Three takes. Which prompted the principal to briefly switch up the storytelling formats.
“I know, right? Just like an actress making a movie.”
It even got Aiden Kramer’s attention, he of the aforementioned jaded fifth-grader crowd.
“That was cool,” he said, only a little laconically. “I didn’t think she’d do it.”
It wasn’t immediately known if he was speaking of the principal or the pig.
“So,” Kronowski said, addressing the 800-pound pig in the room, “what are we gonna do next year?”
Well, Mountainview’s mascot is the bobcat, one student ventured. Maybe the principal could kiss a bobcat.
With the timing of an actress, Dickerson laughed. Then delivered her line.
“Uh, that’s not going to happen.”
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