Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dresses As Gene - Students Get To 'Rock Out And Read' All Week Long

NEWARK -- Elvis Presley and Gene Simmons walked the Excel Academy halls this week for the annual Right to Read week, themed "Rock Out and Read."

"They're all quite frightened," high school English teacher Sarah Boulard said, laughing, about her students in reference to her Friday costume -- a black wig, spiked foam shoulder pads and silver leggings, reminiscent of an outfit worn by Simmons, a member of the band Kiss.

The school has had a music theme all week, with different classrooms highlighting different decades in music. For every 10 pages a student read during the week, he or she received a guitar pick to put on a lanyard.

Boulard's class focused on the 1980s all week -- prompting Friday's Kiss outfit and other '80s-themed outfits throughout the week.

"We looked at music as poetry through the '80s," she said, mentioning AC/DC's "Back in Black" as one example. "I got to introduce the kids to poetry in a way that they could relate to."
Students also did band reports throughout the week, concentrating on musicians such as Presley and The Beatles, elementary teacher Cathi Compton said.

"I think it got them excited about reading," she said.

High school students, who usually wear uniforms, also were able to dress down each day, based on whatever decade was the theme -- from the 1950s through the 1990s.

Thursday afternoon, when most teachers participated by wearing '80s-inspired clothes, also was parent-teacher conference day. Boulard said she decided not to wear her Kiss outfit for the conferences.

"There are probably some parents who would look at me and think, 'Oh dear God, what is teaching my children?'" she said.