One book, two books, red books, blue books

Students celebrate Read Across America Week, Dr. Seuss’ birthday

Washington Township High School Principal Jonathan Strout read ‘The Energy Bus’ to a second-grade class. (Anthony J. Mazziotti III/The Sun)

Reading is one of the most important life skills to have. That and knowing how to tie your shoes. To celebrate reading and one of the most popular authors in history, Dr. Seuss, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School hosted guest readers on Thursday, Feb. 28.

The event was coordinated by reading specialist Samantha Dulude.

“For Read Across America, it takes time because we invite guest readers to come out,” she said. “We choose books wisely for our grade levels.”

Students in grades kindergarten through five had guest readers from the community. Retired teachers, township officials and parents came to visit and read some of their favorite books to the students.

Board of Education Vice President Ray Dinovi chose ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish’ to read to a kindergarten class. (Anthony J. Mazziotti III/The Sun)

For example, “Fireman Dan” Pacewicz completed his 10th consecutive Read Across America day at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. Pacewicz grew up across the street from the school, got a job as a fireman and stayed in town.

“The first year I did it I got to see some teachers that were here when I was in elementary school,” he said. “It came full circle. It’s fun, I really like doing it.”

Pacewicz read two books to Lori Morrison and Danielle Farese’s second-grade classroom, “Green Eggs and Ham” and “Gerald McBoing Boing,” both written by Dr. Seuss.

“I enjoy doing it, it’s a lot of fun. The kids are great,” he added.

From the teachers’ angle, the lessons can be multi-faceted. For Morrison, she tries to hit multiple subjects in her lessons.

Left: Thomas Jefferson Elementary School Interventionist Sara Rose enjoyed reading to a kindergarten class. (Anthony J. Mazziotti III/The Sun) Right: Firefighter Dan Pacewicz read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and ‘Gerald McBoing Boing’ to a second-grade class. (Anthony J. Mazziotti III/The Sun)

“I have an activity with ‘The Foot Book,’ kids go around with the foot ruler and measure different things,” she said. “It’s a fun activity for the kids. They love Dr. Seuss books, so it’s a nice way to get them involved. All they want to do is read Dr. Seuss books after it’s over.”

Each day has a different theme Monday through Friday of Read Across America week. Monday is hat day, Tuesday the students and teachers wear shirts that can be read, and Wednesday is wacky Wednesday.

“It’s one big party,” basic skills teacher Farese added.

Kindergarten teacher Sarah Jackson likes bringing community members in to read to her class.

“It’s a good opportunity for them to see other people read besides their teacher,” she said. “We just really focus on a love for reading for the kids.”

Washington Township Chief of Police Pat Gurcsik brought ‘Go Dog Go’ to life for a kindergarten class. (Anthony J. Mazziotti III/The Sun)

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School Principal Gary Breen seconded this notion.

“I love that it brings outsiders in,” he said. “Dignitaries in the community, some people that kids may know or not know, like the police chief or superintendent. We get some people in to share reading with kids.”

While Read Across America week is geared toward Dr. Seuss to celebrate his birthday on March 2, volunteers can choose to read other books.

“I went away from the Dr. Seuss theme because this is one of my favorites,” Washington Township High School Principal Jonathan Strout said as he pointed to his book, “The Energy Bus for Kids.”

“Jon Gordon is a really inspirational author. Whenever I get a chance to read this to the kids, I take advantage because it’s such a powerful message.”

Retired Thomas Jefferson Elementary School teacher Doris Middleton read a book written by a township resident.

Superintendent Joseph Bollendorf read ‘There’s a Wocket in my Pocket’ to a kindergarten class. (Anthony J. Mazziotti III/The Sun)

“Reading my book ‘Everyone Loves Elwood’ and sharing the story, which is a true story,” Middleton said. “This dog and his owner Karen were in our school, she was a student teacher here. It has a special message to the children about being different and respecting other people’s differences and being kind to others. I like sharing that book and that message with the children.”

The goal of the week is to promote reading with the students by bringing in members of the community.

“What I love about it is how we come together as a school and we show our love for reading,” Dulude said. “Our guest readers come in and share their love of reading as well. That’s something we try to promote here at Thomas Jefferson, reading is something we all should do. There’s so much fun, love and learning that go into reading and places you can go, just as Dr. Seuss says.”