Oak Meadows Students Read; Principal Loses His Mustache

Oak Meadows principal Manny Valdes poses for students with half his mustache shaved.
So we mustache you a question…

What would your school principal do if you and your classmates read almost 8,000 books in less than four months?

At Oak Meadows Elementary School in Menifee, the answer is … shave off a mustache you’ve had for 25 years.

Keeping a promise he made to the 1,003 students in the K-5 school, principal Manny Valdes shaved off his mustache Friday morning. This was a reward for the students’ success in the school’s Accelerated Reader program.

In the program, students selected books from the school library or off a list of approved books. After reading each book, they were required to pass an online reader comprehension test about the book. In this trimester, the students read 7,775 books and averaged 75.2 percent on the comprehension tests.

As a result, Valdes shaved off his mustache – in two parts. In the first assembly, before the older grades in the school, he shaved the left side. Moments later, before the younger students, he finished the job.

“I got to thinking, ‘How could we encourage more reading?’” Valdes said. “The first trimester we set a goal of 3,500 books and they met it. This trimester I wanted to double that, but I didn’t want to make it too tough, so I said 6,000 books. They bypassed their goal.”

Sheila Curtis, a parent and member of the school council, said this incentive worked better than others they’ve tried in the past.

“In the past, we’d have challenges like dance recess and popcorn parties,” Curtis said. “But mustaches have become popular lately on posters, tattoos and slogans. The kids loved the idea.”

Valdes and the teachers set a goal of reaching 10,000 books read by the end of the school year.

Here's a video of the big moment:


  1. This is a perfect example of what makes Mr. Valdes a wonderful principal and leader. He is the best principal I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He is extremely dedicated to his school and especially to his students.