READING EXTRAVAGANZA — Meredith Nicholson Principal Michelle Jackson (left) and IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson (right) had lots of fun participating in the third annual Scholars in Sleepwear. This year’s theme was Camp Read S’More. Superintendent Johnson, dressed in a unicorn onesie, also read to students throughout the day.


How do you get every student in a school — from the youngest to the oldest — excited about reading? The staff at Meredith Nicholson School 96 has the answer!

For the third year, the school devoted an entire day to reading and reading-related activities during its annual Scholars in Sleepwear program.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15, students and staff ditched their school uniforms and work attire to sport their most comfy pajamas, read and listen to stories, engage in reading-related activities and nosh on a variety of tasty treats.

This year’s theme was Camp Read S’More. And just as the theme suggests, there was full-blown camping motif. The school’s gym was decorated with tents and “campfires” and there were loads of activities — including a reading station, ring toss, knot-tying, snacks, postcard-writing and bingo!

All 372 students participated, as well as 30 volunteers from the district (including IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson) and the community.

Cara Chandler, assistant principal at Meredith Nicholson, said having a variety of guests participate in Scholars in Sleepwear adds to the excitement of the day.

“We love having outside people come in because it gives students the opportunity to see a wide variety of people demonstrating their love of reading,” said Chandler. “We also get significant positive feedback from everyone who comes. They love getting to experience the enthusiasm the kids have for being read to. I think it’s especially important for district people to come read; they get to hang out with the kids they work for every day. In fact, there’s an entire (district) office that’s participated for a couple of years now. We love that!”

A new aspect to this year’s Scholars in Sleepwear was the school’s door decorating contest. Classroom doors were decorated using a range of book themes and titles — from “The Three Little Pigs” to “Creepy Pair of Underwear” to “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.”

Teachers who participated in the contest received a jeans pass. The winner also received a $50 Target gift card. That prize went to kindergarten teacher Robin Nichols, who along with her student teachers, used author Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to design their door.

While the overall day was considered a success, Chandler said one of the highlights for her was when she overheard a third grader exclaim, “This is the best day of the whole year!”