‘Be A Book Nut’

Yesterday may have been the only day of the year in which fabricated

words and grammar were deemed acceptable in the classroom.

On Friday, in celebration of what would have been his 109th

birthday, the eccentric ingenuity of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s literary

works was enjoyed by area children in a variety of settings.

Geisel, better known by his pen name, Dr. Seuss, is best

remembered for his nonsensical words and his ability to flawlessly

weave morality into his stories without lowering the entertainment

value of his stories’ plots. His birthdate of March 2, has been adopted by the National

Education Association as the annual date for its reading initiative,

known as “Read Across America.”

The initiative is observed in the education system on the school day that is closest to March 2. In the

Jamestown Public Schools district, Read Across America was celebrated in each of its five elementary schools with the reading of Seuss’ books by

student volunteers from Jamestown High School.

According to Donnelle Conti, who coordinated the reading sessions,

approximately 50 high school students volunteered to

read in more than 100 elementary school classrooms.

“I would say we’ve been doing (Read Across America) for about

20 years, and we always have the high school kids go down and

read,” said Conti, who teaches 10th-grade global studies at JHS.

“All of my high school kids will pick their favorite Dr. Seuss book,

and then they get their shift and they go out to the elementary

schools. And the high school kids come back so excited, they love

this.”

Many of the student volunteers, who are primarily in National

Honor Society or Key Club, arrived at their assigned classrooms

in character many wearing the infamous red and white

hat as seen in Seuss’ book, “The Cat in the Hat.” Conti, who visited

all five elementary schools throughout the day, said that some

student volunteers have even participated in full costume before.

Conti herself donned the iconic hat and sat down in Rhonda Ricker’s third-grade class at Lincoln

Elementary to read two books:

“There’s a Wocket in My Pocket!”, and “One Fish Two Fish Red

Fish Blue Fish.” According to Conti, the Read Across America

initiative is an enjoyable endeavor for all participants.

“(The volunteers) really do enjoy doing this for the fact that

they like to come back to see their teachers and old classrooms,” she said. “And I’m glad that I’m able

to do it. I think it’s so important, in this day and age, to show the

little kids that, even once they get to high school, it’s not all about

video games and text messaging. (High school students) still like to

read.”

WILD NIGHTS

Later in the evening, Zion Covenant Church hosted its third annual Seuss Family Fun Night

for the preschool program. The event, which ran from 6-8 p.m., consisted of a variety of Dr.

Seuss-themed activities and attractions, including: face painting;

shapes with lights, where kids could make hand shadows with flashlights; a balancing station, in

which kids balanced as many bean bags as possible on their heads while walking a straight line; a

dress up like a cat station, where kids dress up like the iconic “Cat

in the Hat” character and have their photo taken; a duck pond; pin

the socks on the fox; a craft station where kids could make their own

“wockets;” an oobleck station, which displayed a gooey green

concoction inspired by the book, “Bartholomew and the Oobleck;” and a bounce house.

According to Andie Smeltzer, director of Zion’s preschool, the fun night event is only a midway

point in the school’s extended observance of Seuss’ birthday.

“Instead of just celebrating his birthday, we celebrate it for a

month,” said Smeltzer. “We (start) in February and go into

March. We do a lot of silly rhyming, games and artwork.

Because when else do you get to do silly things? It’s silly and nonsense

rhyming, and this is just the party that goes along with it.” One of the event attendees was

Gretchen Lindell, who was with her 5-year-old son, Micah.

“We wanted to celebrate Dr.

Seuss’ birthday, because it’s all the rage this week, and have some

fun,” she said. “All of the activities are uniquely challenging to

his age group, so we’re having a lot of fun with that.”

The fun night event was open to preschool families as well as

the general public. According to Smeltzer, there are currently 50

families enrolled in the preschool, and last year’s fun night

event drew approximately 150 families from throughout the

community.