Paul Banks Elementary School Principal Eric Pederson kisses a pig during a Thursday, March 5, 2020 wild west-themed assembly to celebrate the end of the school’s annual read-a-thon, at the school in Homer, Alaska. During the kickoff assembly for the read-a-thon, Pederson had promised his students to kiss the pig if they were able read for a collective 150,000 minutes. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Paul Banks Elementary School Principal Eric Pederson kisses a pig during a Thursday, March 5, 2020 wild west-themed assembly to celebrate the end of the school’s annual read-a-thon, at the school in Homer, Alaska. During the kickoff assembly for the read-a-thon, Pederson had promised his students to kiss the pig if they were able read for a collective 150,000 minutes. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Paul Banks celebrates end of reading challenge

There isn’t much Paul Banks Elementary School Principal Eric Pederson won’t do for his students, as evidenced last week when he puckered up and kissed a pig from a local farm.

Paul Banks holds a read-a-thon every year to encourage reading among its students and to raise money for books, supplies and other school needs. The staff holds a kickoff assembly at the start of the event and a closing assembly celebrating the students’ achievement.

This year’s assemblies were wild west themed, and the school brought in a live pig from Anchor River Llama and Alpaca Ranch in Anchor Point. Guinevere the pig made a special appearance at the kickoff assembly before being “stolen” by some “pig rustlers” while Paul Banks staff acted out a skit.

The deal was this: if the students could read a collective total of 150,000 minutes, Guinevere would be returned and Pederson would give her a big kiss.

The students ensured this would happen by surpassing the goal set for them and reading a total of 216,976 minutes. So, with the help of his daughter, Ingrid Pederson, Eric Pederson smeared on some lipstick and gave Guinevere a big kiss in front of his students, to wild cheers and applause.

School secretary Katy Countiss said the event has raised $4,634, but that funds are still trickling in.

Pederson said the students really got into the spirit of things in the last week of the read-a-thon, and even took to reminding him of his upcoming kiss when they passed him in the halls.

“The amount of reading that these kids did — they really got into it,” he said. “… It was just a really good, positive … school event.”

The Homer Bookstore and Ulmer’s Drug and Hardware donated $30 gift cards that were given out to the top readers and top earners for each grade level.

Top readers (Homer Bookstore gift cards)

PreK: Isabella Eben, 780 minutes

Kindergarten: McKenna McCarthy, 2,150 minutes

First grade: Maren Steen, 4,650 minutes

Second grade: Sophie Williams, 5,400 minutes

Top fundraising earners (Ulmer’s gift cards)

PreK: Nyla Landmesser, $56

Kindergarten: Wyatt Hayden, $848

First grade: Sadie Gibson, $256

Second grade: Tazlina Petska, $226

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

Ingrid Pederson, Principal Eric Pederson’s daughter, helps him put on lipstick before he kisses a pig at a wild west themed assembly to celebrate the end of Paul Banks Elementary School’s annual read-a-thon Thursday, March 5, 2020 at the school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Ingrid Pederson, Principal Eric Pederson’s daughter, helps him put on lipstick before he kisses a pig at a wild west themed assembly to celebrate the end of Paul Banks Elementary School’s annual read-a-thon Thursday, March 5, 2020 at the school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Members of the Paul Banks Preludes, under the direction of Katy Klann perform at a Thursday, March 5, 2020 assembly to celebrate the end of the school’s annual read-a-thon at Paul Banks Elementary School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Members of the Paul Banks Preludes, under the direction of Katy Klann perform at a Thursday, March 5, 2020 assembly to celebrate the end of the school’s annual read-a-thon at Paul Banks Elementary School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Paul Banks Elementary School Principal Eric Pedersen celebrates with the students who read the most minutes and raised the most money during the school’s annual read-a-thon, at a Thursday, March 5, 2020 assembly at the school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Paul Banks Elementary School Principal Eric Pedersen celebrates with the students who read the most minutes and raised the most money during the school’s annual read-a-thon, at a Thursday, March 5, 2020 assembly at the school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

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