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
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
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