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Cats In Hats

JHS Students Read To Younger Pupils

Jamestown Public Schools participated in the national initiative Read Across America Day a few days early with high school students reading to elementary students throughout the district. Jamestown High School students visited various schools in Jamestown to read to the younger students. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

As if peeking back in time, Jamestown High School students popped into elementary school classrooms mirroring a moment when much older students than them had done years ago.

Sporting classic “Cat in the Hat” hats, JHS students read various Dr. Seuss books to elementary and middle school students within the district on Thursday.

In association with the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day, Jamestown Public Schools got a head start on the initiative as it typically coincides with Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2. The event is tailored to emphasis reading among younger students. In Jamestown, the district sends high school students to read to elementary and middle school students as an added element to the nationally recognized day.

“(We send the older students) to show the importance of reading throughout the ages not just something in elementary school,” said Donnelle Conti, JPS coordinator of Read Across America. “It’s something you continue to do throughout high school.”

Typically, many of the high school students choose to read at their former elementary school where they once roamed the hallways.

An estimated 30 to 40 students traveled to Persell Middle School and Love, Ring, Lincoln, Fletcher and Bush elementary schools this year. Many of the students are involved with the Honor Society, Key club and other student organizations. Conti said the district’s version of the event has been ongoing for more than 20 years. However, last year’s event was canceled due to a snow day.

As much as it benefits the younger students, Conti said the older students benefit too.

“I think my high school students might enjoy it more than the elementary students,” she said.

Conti believes the event gives the younger individuals a glimpse of the evolution of a student as they progress through the educational system. Many of the students heading into college or a career can discuss their future with the students who are many years away from graduation.

Each year, Conti asks that the students read Dr. Seuss books to remain true to the origin of the event.

Inside Fletcher teacher Jamie Damon’s fourth grade classroom, Finley Holt, JHS senior, read two Dr. Seuss books to the attentive students.

“It’s just nice to see older kids reading picture books and enjoying them,” Damon said.

Damon said her students were excited leading into Wednesday anticipating a unfamiliar face to read to them. She said she enjoys seeing her students interact with the high school students as well as having a different perspective in the room.

Often, the class will discuss various writing elements in the book they just read such as rhyming, alliteration and onamonapia.

“It’s just a really amazing event that takes place every year,” Damon said of the national event itself. “To get kids interested in reading and loving reading (is great). Dr. Seuss books are timeless. This can also lead into kids writing their own books similar to Dr. Seuss books.”

For Holt, he wasn’t able to return to his former elementary school as he previously attended Rogers Elementary School that is currently closed. However, the former Rogers building is being repurposed into a multi-learning facility that is set to open in the fall.

Holt was surprised by the maturity of the elementary students. The visiting students read to various grade levels which allowed them to interact with a range of age groups.

“It’s interesting to see,” Holt said. “When I think of my elementary school years they all blur together, but looking back at it you can see how much these kids progress in just one or two years even.”

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