Superintendent comes to class as Cat in the Hat for Seuss day

Ocean Park Elementary Principal Bette Arne awaits students dressed in a Dr. Seuss hat and her pajamas. This was part of the theme for the schools observance of Read Across America day. DAMIAN MULINIX photo

OCEAN PARK - Read Across America is a great excuse to read a doctor named Seuss all day long.

Tall red and white striped hats were the norm Monday morning at Ocean Park Elementary as the school held a Seuss-A-Thon as part of the national Read Across America day, which promotes school-age reading.

The national event began in 1997, and was adopted at Ocean Park Elementary the following year. They have a theme for the event that changes annually.

"When Shel Silverstein died, we did dead poets," said Miki Frace, a first grade teacher at Ocean Park Elementary and organizer of the day's events. "All the kids memorized [Silverstein] poetry."

This year the population of the school, including teachers and staff - even parents who came for the event - were encouraged wear pajamas to school. This was to emphasize the idea of reading to kids at bedtime.

"Any story that you read night after night to your child is a real advantage because they start memorizing the book language and how the story flows," said Frace. "And bedtime reading is when parents finally have enough time to sit down with their kids."

The day started out with an all-school assembly featuring a special visitor, the Cat in the Hat. In the past, school custodian Bill Hurley read to the students dressed as Dr. Seuss's most notorious character. Hurley was unable to be there this year so Ocean Beach School District Superintendent Tom Lockyer played the role.

Lockyer, outfitted in a traditional Seuss hat, a big red bow around his neck and white gloves, read a portion of the book, "Hooray for Diffendoofer Day," the final book written by Theodor Seuss Geisel. The story tells of students who take a test in order for them to stay at the school they love instead of moving to a worse one.

"I thought it was kind of interesting," said Lockyer of the book. "Certainly as it pertains to what's going on with Washington state, and certainly here on the Peninsula."

As a gift on this special occasion, the Friends Of Ocean Park School provided a new book for each student to pick and keep. As part of the morning activities, students got to look through several of the books as they decided which they wanted. One student asked Frace if the book she had chosen for herself would be too difficult. To this Frace replied she should take the five-finger test.

"Read a page, and if you make a mistake put up a finger. If you make it through the whole page with five fingers up, then put it back. You made five mistakes, it's too hard."

The school dedicates a 90-minute block of time daily for students to practice their reading skills. Volunteers from the community come in and assist with this. On this day, all the teachers featured Dr. Seuss books.

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