Last modified: Monday, April 5, 2010 11:47 PM EDT Harrington School students enjoy principal, teachers kissing a pig - for

a good cause By Laura Paine / For The Item LYNN - Scientifically speaking, pigs are one of nature's most intelligent creatures. For Lynn's Harrington Elementary School students, watching their teachers kiss a pot belly pig named Daisy on the snout was excellent incentive to increase their interest in reading. Harrington Librarian Carole Shutzer first heard about Farmer Minor and Daisy the Pot Belly Pig through a network of fellow librarians who mentioned the "Pig Out on Reading" program. In the program, each class decides how many books they will read. If they meet their goal, their teacher has to kiss Daisy. Principal Michael Molnar kisses Daisy the pig during the reading challenge with Farmer Minor at Harrington School Monday. Item photo / Reba M. Saldanha

"It has been a reading incentive program and it has been ongoing for an entire month. Each classroom had a little different incentive with their teacher in order to get their teacher to kiss the pig. Instead of just being a one-morning event it has been a month-long event," she said. During the second assembly of the day, 250 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students listened quietly to Farmer Minor's stories about Daisy and his wife Mrs. Minor. They learned about pot belly pigs and took a pledge to read more. At the end of the pledge, teachers had to make good on their promise while the kids yelled, "kiss the pig," in unison. "It was fun. It was kind of cool to hear the farmer talk about the pig and the stories and the books and how he got a key to the city and how there are two Daisys, Daisy 1 and Daisy 2, and that the teachers kissed it, so it was kind of cool," said fourth-grader Giovanni Corbero, who hoped to kiss the pig himself. Fourth-grader Belmin Berilo's class had to read 100 books, collectively. He said he thought the program was "good." "I like when the teachers were kissing it. I never saw a teacher kiss a pig," Berilo said. The teachers were not the only ones to kiss Daisy. Shutzer and Principal Michael Molnar kissed him as well. "I knew I was going to kiss the pig. I agreed to it anyway. It was messy. The pig is a sloppy smoocher," Molnar said. This was one of many programs Shutzer has brought to Harrington in support of their Reader Leader program, which encourages students to read a certain number of books to achieve "Reader Leader" status. "It is something we have been doing in the school already and Ms. Shutzer decided this would be a

great way to do one last push during the middle of the year," Molnar said. "The kids were really excited about it. The teachers, I was surprised how many of them came up to kiss the pig." Shutzer said that not all the classes met their goals, though she thought it was great that so many did. "My library club did posters about it, they're all over the school and everybody has been very excited. It was so well-received," she said. "Farmer Minor commented that students really love animals. I was thinking the little students would love it and maybe the big students wouldn't think it was so special but they all really just loved it. It was a wonderful program. We're really thrilled about it." Farmer Minor has taken the "Pig Out on Reading" program to 48 states in the U.S. and has even done some international travel over the last 10 years. Although he is on his second Daisy the Pot Belly Pig, who he refers to as Datu, the mission of encouraging students to watch less TV and read more books has not changed. "I grew up on our family farm and when I was a child it was a dairy farm. When you have milk cows you don't travel. The way I traveled was through books. It was a wonderful way for me to have adventures even though I couldn't travel, and now, of course I travel the world. I still read every night, not only to him, I read him a book, but I read myself," Minor said. "I always have loved reading and without the skill of reading you can't do much of anything unfortunately in life so we think it's a pretty good mission."

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