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Reading Makes a Big Splash at Bedford Hills Elementary

Students dunk Principal Gold

Bedford Hills Elementary School students take their summer reading very seriously. Each year, the student who reads the most books in each grade gets a chance to dunk Principal Zbyněk Gold in a huge water tank. 

“The dunking booth is a reward and motivator for summer reading,” said Elementary Coordinator Jacquelyn Salcito. “Students are given tickets to dunk the principal based on the number of books they read.”

Gold’s wife encouraged him to come up with an exciting idea.

“My wife said, ‘You can’t dye or cut your hair, you’re going to have to think of something else.’”

If the joy on students’ faces was any indication, the dunk tank was a great choice.

This year 61 percent of students participated, reading 3431 books over the summer. The student who read the most books in each grade got a chance to try and dunk Mr. Gold in a tank set up outside the cafeteria during a schoolwide assembly. Even more dunking happened later that night at the Back to School Picnic.

This year’s winners included Jack Dawes (fifth grade), Toby Najera Lopez (fourth grade), Kayla Hammond (third grade), Avery Belanger (second grade), Jennedith Asanza Jimenez (first grade) and Ava Liberati (kindergarten). It was Toby whose throw ultimately dropped Gold into the tank.

“I didn’t think I was going to get it,” he said.

The winners are all self-proclaimed book lovers. Toby enjoyed reading books about animals, while Ava’s favorite from this summer was Tea for Ruby. Avery couldn’t pick just one favorite, but said she loves to read fiction.

“My favorite part of the challenge was when we got to dunk Mr. Gold,” Ava said with a grin.

The annual event creates a lot of excitement around reading, which is exactly Gold’s goal.

“It was my best day as principal for the year, because I inspired so many kids to read,” he said.

BHES summer reading winners