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Reading challenge winners at Paynter Elementary School get just dessert

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Students at Paynter Elementary School competed during a six-week period to see who read the most books and pass a comprehensive test on them. The results of the competition were read during a March 1 assembly to conclude 'Read Across America' week. Laura Van Wert | South Hills Record
Tricia Fusco, principal at Paynter Elementary School, receives a pie in the face from Rylee Glus, a first-grader who read the most books and earned the most Accelerated Reader points during the challenge. Laura Van Wert | South Hills Record
Heather Wessel, vice principal at Paynter Elementary School, cheers when she hears that her team - students in grades one, three and five - won the reading challenge. Laura Van Wert | South Hills Record

Chanting from the Paynter Elementary School auditorium was so loud that it was heard in the building's main office.

Tricia Fusco, the school's principal, encountered a smiling student on her way into the noise-filled auditorium for the March 11 assembly that concluded “Read Across America” week.

“Hey, Mrs. Fusco, are you ready to get a pie in the face?” the girl asked.

Fusco laughed, as the girl walked away.

“I'm ready. I'm going to take it like a man,” Fusco said.

Students at Paynter Elementary School battled it out for six weeks to see which of two teams could earn the most Accelerated Reader points for reading books and being tested on comprehension by the end of “Read Across America” week. In total, the students earned about 3,300 points, which is three times as many as the goal in 2012, Fusco said.

The winning team, including students in grades one, three and five and led by Heather Wessel, the school's vice principal, earned bragging rights while the losing team, led by Fusco and including students in kindergarten, second and fourth grades, had to stand witness as Fusco took a cream pie to the face.

Rylee Glus, a first-grader and the top point scorer in the school, delivered the messy pie to Fusco as a reward for passing 66 Accelerated Reader tests.

“The six weeks of this competition, the kids have taken 3,500 Accelerated Reader tests,” Fusco said.

The competition between Fusco's and Wessel's teams has been intense.

“The kids have been over the top,” Fusco said. “I'd walk in the cafeteria, and I didn't even say anything, and it's ‘One, three, five; K, two, four.'”

The goal of the competition is to help foster a love of reading and comprehension of the content from an early age. Accelerated Reader has tests for each grade level. Each test consists of five to 10 questions about a book.

While this is the first competition at Paynter for Accelerated Reader, the PTA supports the program and offers monthly recognition of those top scorers, Fusco said.

Laura Van Wert is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5814 or at lvanwert@tribweb.com.

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