By Richard Taylor
High winds, choppy seas and canceled ferries could not keep the spirit of Dr. Seuss away from the island on his 114th birthday Friday morning.
As a new participant in the National Education Association’s “Read Across America Day” program, Ocracoke School elementary teachers marched dozens of their charges into “the tank,” the school gym.
Many got into the spirit of the day wearing iconic red-and-white top hats in honor of the most famous of Seuss’s characters, the Cat in the Hat—the main character of Seuss’ 1957 classic of the same name.
Some kids sported homemade hats while Adam “Coach B” Burleson distributed pre-made versions.
For 45 minutes, some 26 groups of three or more sat sprawled around the gym floor, as older students read the Dr. Seuss and other books to younger listeners.
“This should happen every Friday,” quipped Assistant Principal Mary McKnight.
Sitting under a basket she knew all too well, senior Ingrid Contreras, a Lady Dolphins basketball star, read to second-grader Sadye Sanchez and third-graders Imanol Guerrero and Angel Garcia.
“Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that invites every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss,” the NEA’s website says. The nationwide program began 20 years ago.
Teachers looked on admiringly, then handed each participant a red-lettered NEA certificate for “Seussational Achievement” in reading.
Principal Leslie Cole initialized the program here this year but could not attend. McKnight said nearly 100 students signed up locally to participate in this special reading celebration.