NYT Students read aloud for record 6 days
By Ben Dobbin, Associated Press Writer | November 20, 2006
ROCHESTER, N.Y. --A team of high school seniors set a six-day reading
record on Monday as a way to bolster students' interest in books and
boost their school's spirit.
Southside High School's principal said he pursued the reading marathon
to inspire a school still reeling from the 2001 arrest of a senior who
had smuggled a duffel bag full of bombs and guns into the school
intending to carry out a killing spree.
The teen, who was sentenced to more than eight years in prison,
surrendered peacefully after students notified officials that he had
passed someone a threatening note.
"That was just one of the shadows we've tried to overcome," said
principal Christopher Krantz, who took over the school in 2004. "When I
came here, the school was just kind of stumbling. It had been through
eight principals in eight years. It had some negative press; it had lost
When the clock struck 5 p.m. Monday, six National Honor Society members
drew a standing ovation from hundreds of parents, teachers and
classmates. Cheers also rang out 11 hours earlier, at 6 a.m., when they
matched a Guinness World Record set in October 2005 by five Britons who
read aloud continuously for 117 hours at the airport in Manchester, England.
In mostly one-hour shifts, they read more than 20 beloved children's
books, including the six-volume Harry Potter series, seven "Goosebumps"
thrillers and Katherine Paterson's "Bridge to Terabithia." They wrapped
up their epic, 128-hour performance on the school auditorium stage with
"Oh, the Places You'll Go," a Dr. Seuss classic.
Between their reading spells, the students played table tennis, cards
and Scrabble or crawled into their tents onstage for little more than
four hours of sleep at a time. A nurse or a doctor was on duty nearby at
One student developed laryngitis and had to cut back to reading for just
10 or 15 minutes at a time until her voice improved with the help of a
humidifier and infusions of honey.
"For the last six days, reading has been the cool thing to do," the
principal said. "I've had people say to me, 'You know what, we turned
the TV off this weekend and read as a family. It was really
inspirational to a lot of people."