RUMFORD — Children at Rumford Elementary School laughed, pointed and screamed Thursday morning when they saw their principal’s pink hair and mustache.

“He sure got them going,” special education teacher Heidi Waterhouse said.

Principal Chris Decker had promised the K-5 students he’d dye his mustache and hair if children in grades 3-5 read a total of 10,000 pages and if children in kindergarten through grade 2 read or had read to them a total of 1,500 books during the month of October.

True to his word, the brown hair and gray-flecked mustache turned a bright pink by midmorning.

Not only did the children meet the challenge, they far exceeded it.

Decker said one fifth-grade class read a total of 13,540 pages. The total for the older elementary grades came in at 36,527 pages. K-2 pupils read or had read to them a total of 2,255 books.

Reading the most in the two age levels were sister and brother, fifth-grader Rylee and second-grader Owen Sevigny of Mexico. Rylee read 1,000 pages, and her brother read 81 books. They are the children of Wayne and Cheryl Sevigny.

Decker said he highly valued reading because it is the key to learning. And pink seemed like the right color for his hair and mustache because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

“I have had friends who have died of cancer,” he said.

He wasn’t sure what his next challenge would be to encourage reading. He said he would leave it up to the children to come up with ideas.

Rylee thought the pink hair and mustache, along with Decker’s pink shirt and black bow tie, was a good change.

That change wouldn’t last long, however.

Decker planned to wash it all out Thursday night.But before that happened, he would have to live down a bit of all that pinkness.

Thursday morning, he took part in a visual webinar with other professionals in the Maine Principals’ Association. They threatened to put his picture on their website page.

That would be OK, he said. “Real men can wear pink.” 


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