Elmendorf was taking part in the National Young Readers Week Principal Challenge for a chance to win 101 free copies of the latest book in Jeff Kinney's Diary of Wimpy Kid series, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School."
Since 1989, National Young Readers Week has been an annual event held during the second week of November to raise awareness of reading, according to its website. The event was co-founded by Pizza Hut and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
While winning the books would be the icing on the cake, Elmendorf was really hoping to encourage the students at Hillcrest Elementary to take time to read every day, he said.
"If I can read for five hours straight, they can read for 15 minutes every night," Elmendorf said, as he paused to take a drink of water from a cooler at his side. "I want to encourage them to be readers every day."
A little before 9 a.m., Elmendorf took his seat and started to read. Every 10 minutes or so, different classes would come in quietly to listen to a story.
"I like Eric Carle," Elmendorf said, nodding at the selection of books at his side. "Older kids like this — "The Principal from the Black Lagoon."
During the students' lunch hour, Elmendorf encouraged the students to talk and enjoy themselves.
"I want them to have a chance to talk and get the wiggles out," Elmendorf said.
As it was Veterans Day, Elmendorf read some patriotic books and wore a Continental soldier costume, courtesy of a teacher at the school involved in reenactments, he said.
Two displays on the stage featured various armed forces and recognized two staff members — Michael Curry and Bret Gaitan — who are veterans. Blue pieces of paper taped on the walls held the names of family and friends of students who were veterans or in the military.