With each potentially labored step on Saturday, 20 Wake County principals and district administrators hope to get more books to children who might otherwise lack reading material at home.
The Wake principals will try to down a dozen doughnuts Saturday as they make the five-mile Krispy Kreme Challenge trek in Raleigh. Wearing “principals running for literacy” T-shirts, their goal is to promote the collection of 100,000 new and gently used children’s books for the 2nd annual WAKE Up and Read book drive.
“Kids are excited about bringing in books so their principals can run, eat a dozen doughnuts and hopefully finish in a reasonable time,” said Barry Richburg, the principal of Conn Elementary School in Raleigh. “It’s another fun way to promote literacy.”
Last year, Richburg participated in a dance-off with another principal that raised 2,400 books. Richburg said he wanted to get more principals involved in the book drive.
What was once an idea Richburg tweeted to a handful of his colleagues has expanded into an effort involving principals from across the state’s largest school system.
The challenge has special meaning for Tad Sherman, the principal of Wakelon Elementary School in Zebulon.
Wakelon is one of nine high-poverty elementary schools that will receive books from WAKE Up and Read, a group that promotes childhood literacy in Wake County. Books will also be given to community centers and child-care facilities that serve the same areas as those schools.
“I’m just excited for the opportunity to bond with my colleagues and to do it for a good cause,” Sherman said. “It’s helping kids and it’s helping my kids. I’ve got 500 babies at Wakelon here who need to add to their libraries at home.”
Since Wakelon is receiving books, Sherman asked local businesses instead of his school’s families to donate to the drive. But the other schools whose principals are participating Saturday have found ways to encourage their students to contribute.
Richburg has challenged each student at Conn to donate two books.
At Vance Elementary School in Garner, Principal Sarah Simmons said, a Krispy Kreme doughnut will be given to each student in the grade level that donates the most books.
As race day looms, each principal has found his or her own way to prepare.
Richburg, a self-described runner, said he’s been doing his two-plus mile runs three days a week. But he said several of the principals, including Sherman, are participating in their first race.
Sherman said he’s been looking for a race after having lost 70 pounds over the past 1 1/2 years. But he and his fellow principals are apprehensive about the prospect of eating a dozen doughnuts sandwiched between a pair of two 2 1/2 mile runs between N.C. State University and the Krispy Kreme shop downtown.
Trash cans line the finish area for those who can’t hold down the doughnuts.
Simmons plans to run in the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Florida next weekend. But she admits it’s “a little scary” participating in the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
“I really like doughnuts, but I’m not sure if I could eat a whole dozen,” Simmons said. “I’ve run a full marathon and I think this might be a little more intimidating.”