Conway Grammar School holds ‘Read Across America’ day

  • Conway Grammar School students listen to books read aloud in the school gymnasium during Read Across America, Tuesday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Dressed as a Dr. Seuss character, Conway Grammar School secretary Lora Hanas reads aloud to students Tuesday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Clayton Conklin, a 6th grade student at the Conway Grammar School, reads aloud Tuesday in the Fournier Road school's gymnasium during a Read Across America event, March 6, 2018. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Conway Grammar School students in the school gymnasium during a Read Across America event Tuesday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Jennifer Wheeler, a teacher at Conway Grammar School, reads to students Tuesday in the school gymnasium during a Read Across America event. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

Recorder Staff
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

CONWAY — Young Wyatt Burt, a pre-kindergarten student at Conway Grammar School, propped himself up from the gymnasium floor by his elbows and listened with rapt attention as Secretary Lora Hanas read aloud from “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.

“The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another, his mother called him ‘wild thing,’” read Hanas, who was dressed as a Dr. Seuss character. The book’s pictures were displayed on a large screen behind her.

Students cheered, laughed, and occasionally shouted in surprise as Hanas read during the Grammar School’s version of Read Across America, a reading initiative from the National Education Association, which is annually held on the birthday of Dr. Seuss. This year, the event fell on Friday. Because of last week’s winter weather, the school moved its reading day to Tuesday.

“The kids are wearing their jammies. They look so cute in their jammies,” said Principal Kristen Gordon, standing to the side of the students, who nearly filled the gymnasium.

In addition to “Where the Wild Things Are,” students heard from Robert Munsch’s book “The Paper Bag Princess,” as read by first-grade teacher Jennifer Wheeler, and “Leonardo, the Terrible Monster” by Mo Willems, which Gordon, who dressed as the “Cat in the Hat,” read aloud.

At one point, Gordon invited Clayton Conklin, a sixth-grade student, up to the microphone to read a few particularly dramatic pages from “Leonardo, the Terrible Monster.”

Tuesday’s event culminated with a presentation by “The Wonderfully Wise Wizard of the Conway Grammar School,” aka Librarian Kate Arsenault, who pushed a “magical and fantastic” cart filled with books. After, the students dispersed to classrooms where they heard more stories.

Arsenault said she will be taking the cart to every classroom over the next two weeks.

The importance of reading

“Reading is a key that unlocks everything. It’s a window out of poverty. You have to be able to read,” Gordon said.

It’s also a way to learn empathy because reading transcends barriers, according to sixth-grade student Patricia Moriarty. “It’s a way to use your imagination and open your mind,” Moriarty said.

Another student, fourth-grader Julia Morse, who reads almost every day and was dressed in giraffe pajamas, said that book characters sometimes take on a life of their own.

“Maybe a book could be real in your mind,” Morse said. “It’s my favorite thing to do.”