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Return of guest readers help local schools celebrate Read Across America Day

Jennifer Handy
Lucia Mar Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Handy reads to 1st graders at Dorothea Lange Elementary School during Read Across America Day. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

NIPOMO, Calif. -- A popular tradition returned to Dorothea Lange Elementary School on Wednesday.

Throughout the day, the school welcomed community members onto its campus to take part in the school's Read Across America activities.

The long-running annual event is observed in thousands of participating schools to celebrate the importance of reading.

Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lange Elementary, along with many other schools, were unable to host guest readers.

"We are so happy to have this tradition return to our school," said principal Debbie Schimandle. "We love having community members come into our classrooms and really model for students how important the skill of reading is, and it's such a fun day and we're glad to have community members back. Our students have been looking forward to this, and are super excited about having all of our readers go into the classrooms."

As in years past, Lange Elementary brought in a number of guest readers from various parts of the community.

"We have firefighters on campus," said librarian Candace Brown. "We have people come in costume. We have librarians, who are amazing storytellers. The kids love it. They eat it up."

Among those taking part was NewsChannel's Dave Alley, who serves as the station's community liaison. Alley has been involved with this event many times in the past and was thrilled to return to the classroom.

"It was fun to read to the kids once again," said Alley. "It's something I truly enjoy, and it's always great to see how receptive the kids are, especially the younger ones, to all of the guest readers. You can really tell how excited they are to hear different voices, and also learn a little bit about the guests and what they do."

Students said they enjoy having the guests on campus and in their classroom. It offers them a little variety to their day and provides them a chance to have a new educational experience.

"It's pretty fun getting to listen to different kinds of people read books to us, and the way they read with their emotions and their voices with the characters," said student Aurora Mendoza. It's nice because it's always just the students and the teachers, and now, we can interact with more people and learn about more things."

Brown added that holding this event marks another step forward into returning back into a sense of normalcy, returning closer to how the campus operated before the start of the pandemic.

"We've been missing our students for a long time, and now we've had them back for a while, and it is so nice to be able to start introducing the events," said Brown. "The events are what makes the memories a lot times in our schools, and it's great to have it back."

Schimandle agreed and pointed out that several other annual school events are scheduled to return over the next couple of months.

"We look forward to our Bobcat Run, which is next month in April, another tradition that we haven't done in a couple of years and we're looking forward to," said Schimandle. "The next thing will be evening events, like open house in May. Staff and students are looking forward to having these traditions return to our schools."

Read Across America is held each year on March 2, which is the birthday of famed children's book author Theodor Geisel, who is better known as Dr. Seuss.

Created in 1998, the national event is celebrated in thousands of schools nationwide. Recently, it has pivoted away from focusing on Dr. Seuss, and now emphasizes the importance of reading in general.

"We can focus on a variety of books," said Brown. "Having a variety of things to read helps us to build our vocabulary and emphasize with people and it's just super neat to be able to bring the different people to our campus."

Article Topic Follows: Education

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.


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