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Dorchester students accept 15,000-book challenge

Posted by Patrick Rosso  December 7, 2012 04:04 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/

Principal of the Roger Clap Innovation School, Justin Vernon, and Wall the Green Monster, talking with students at the Dorchester school.

Students at Dorchester’s Roger Clap Innovation School have quite a task ahead of them after their principal challenged them to read 15,000 books in just six months.

This is the second time the elementary students have faced such a task, last year the students read just over 13,000 books, surpassing the 10,000-book goal.

“We decided we’d up the ante this year,” said Claire Harris, co-chair of the school’s Parent Council. “It got a lot of kids reading last year.”

The school’s principal, Justin Vernon, made the announcement Friday afternoon with the help of the Red Sox’s mascot, Wally the Green Monster.

“We’ve been working on this for a number of weeks and we’re finally ready to show you a surprise,” said Vernon, as he welcomed Wally to school’s auditorium.

Over 168 students will participate in the challenge, which ends in June.

“It really gives them an incentive to read especially when the principal is involved and there is a bet,” said Susanne Bartlett, co-chair of the school’s Parent Council.

As Vernon announced the challenge he also bet the students that it couldn’t be done, to add a little excitement to the program.

“I really don’t think it’s going to happen,” Vernon said to students. “You’re saying they can definitely do it and if they do I’m going to have to do something?”

Suggestions were shouted out by students that afternoon; with many remembering last year’s bet that involved Vernon, a certain pop-star, and a cow.

“Dress up like Beyoncé and do a dance routine,” shouted one student.

“Every student gets to throw a pie in your face,” suggested another.

As suggestions and laughter rung out, many students eagerly watched as Wally danced on stage and even suggested they start with his book, “Hello, Wally” by Jerry Remy.

The Roger Clap Innovation School, located on Harvest Street in Dorchester’s McCormack neighborhood, is one of the number of Innovation Schools that have popped up around the Commonwealth. Designated in 2011, the Boston Public School has greater flexibly with curriculum and staffing.

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