Students at Lincoln Elementary school arrived at school Monday morning dressed in the costumes of beloved book characters. Hours of work went into preparations for the school’s celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The popular children’s author would be 111 years old this year.
“It’s also a good day to celebrate reading,” Lincoln Principal Misty Straub said, greeting the parade of students as they assembled in the lunchroom for the day’s kickoff event. Great Bend Mayor Mike Allison was there to read out loud to students from the Seuss book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”
“If you can read, you can be educated,” Allison said. The mayor went on to tell students about a friend who at one time lived next door to Seuss, and that he’d seen Seuss’s house.
USD 428 Superintendent Brad Reed also recounted a personal story about how he came to love reading. Having grown up in a fairly poor family, there was no money for vacations, he said. Instead, he would go to the library and check out book about the places he heard his friends talk about, and travelled there himself through the words he read on the page.
“It is our hope that you come away from your education with a love of reading,” he said. “The better readers you are, the better you will be at school, and the better you will be in life.”
The students were then treated to a dramatic reading of “Yertle the Turtle” by Great Bend High School Drama Teacher Dan Heath. He was filling in for members of the high school drama club who were unable to perform due to illness.
Great Bend Police Detective David Paden spoke briefly to students about how reading helps him do his job.
“I do puzzles all day, but the puzzles I do have to do with crime scenes,” he said. “My officers write down what they saw and what they heard, and I put it all together into essentially a book that is used by the courts to determine what happened.”
Great Bend radio personalities Scott Donovan and Steve Webster encouraged students to ask their parents to read to them at bedtime and to have fun reading aloud. Donovan pulled two students from the audience to read aloud briefly on the air during the morning radio program.
Principal Straub recognized 44 students who achieved 100 percent participation in Read and Respond. That means they read with their parents every school night and had their parents sign that they had completed their assigned minutes of reading. Later that day, the students would be invited to share a special treat with Superintendent Reed.
Dr. Seuss is the pen name for Theodore Seuss Geisel. According to his biographical information from Scholastic, he was born March 2, 1904. He attended Dartmouth College and Oxford University, and began his career first in advertising. His first book, “And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street,” was published in 1937. In 1957, “The Cat In The Hat,”was picked by Random House books to be the prototype of its long lasting Beginner Books line. He authored and illustrated a total of 44 children’s books. Those which he wrote, but others illustrated, were published under the pen name Theo LeSieg, which is “Geisel” spelled backwards.
Geisel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984, as well as three Academy Awards.