Where reading really does pay


If the students at St. Margaret of Cortona School can raise $50,000, then they can attend a West 260th Street school filled with tape and slime.

All they have to do is read.

The school’s annual read-a-thon has kicked off as students ask for one-time donations of family, friends and social circles — who pay up depending on how much time their student spends reading.

Funds, according to principal Hugh Keenan, will be used for classroom smartboards as well as playground equipment, water fountains that will let students and teachers fill up bottles, and Chromebook tablet computers for students in some of the lower grades.

If the students can raise $5,000, Keenan will let the students tape him to a wall. If they raise $15,000, it will get messy as Keenan and regional superintendent John Riley will subject themselves to a sliming.

At $25,000, “Tony the Barber” will visit the school, and in front of everyone, shave Keenan’s head.

And at $50,000? Keenan has committed to spending a night in a tent — on the school’s roof.

The students already have a good start as of Tuesday, reading more than 63,000 minutes and collecting more than $21,000 in pledges from 500 sponsors.

Families provide support virtually by sending not just money, but also encouraging notes to the readers through individual class pages.

The read-a-thon continues through Feb. 13. For details, visit

St. Margaret of Cortona School, Hugh Keenan, John Riley, Michael Hinman,