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Elementary school principal sits on roof for 24 hours after students hit reading goal

This principal is going to great lengths—and great heights—to get students excited about reading.

GRANDVILLE, Mich. — He's no fiddler on the roof, but this elementary school principal is going to great lengths—and great heights—to get students excited about reading by sitting on the roof.

Central Elementary School Principal Michael Gelmi's campout on the school's roof began with a challenge to his students. He told them that if they surpassed their reading goal for the month of March, he would spend 24 hours on the roof.

The students took him up on the challenge, and were able to meet that goal.

Gelmi started his time on the roof at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday. He made his way up with a stockpile of food and water, and a tent for sleeping in at night. He also came prepared with a portable bathroom.

Gelmi even had a work setup inside his tent so he could continue working while up on the roof.

Gelmi said the decision to sit on the roof came from a desire to foster students' love of reading and learning.

"Reading is so important for our kids, it's so important for everybody," Gelmi said from the rooftop on Tuesday. "We just want to do fun things to try and get kids engaged, to be those independent readers. Some of that is just so we can kind of curate that lifelong learning that they have."

When 13 ON YOUR SIDE checked in with Gelmi on Wednesday, he said he received an outpouring of support from the school community, including students and parents stopping by into the evening hours to visit with him.

"It was a little hot yesterday, but it's been good," he said.

Gelmi also checked in with the Central Elementary community through several livestreams on YouTube.

He said the time spent on the roof is worth it to see kids' love for reading grow.

"Reading is such a great thing for our kids to just become themselves, and find a book, find something they can do," he said Wednesday. "This is something that no adult, or nobody else has to be there with them to do those things. So it's really awesome. To grow that with our kids and kind of give them a passion for reading and just learning in general, it's really cool."

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