Ledyard students participate in 'Read Across America'

Ledyard — Pfizer employee Michelle Doly paused in her reading of "The Cat in the Hat" and turned to her audience, Mary Pietrowski's first-grade class. The Cat had just arrived with a big red box.

"Do you think this is a good sign?" she asked the Gales Ferry elementary students.

"I smell trouble!" the kids yelled back.

"He's a bad cat, all right," said another.

Doly was one of sixty volunteers spread out to elementary schools across the region Thursday to read Dr. Seuss books on what would have been the author's 113th birthday. Other participating districts included Preston, Groton, New London, Norwich, Waterford, Lisbon and Voluntown.

Read Across America is an initiative of the National Education Association to get kids to practice reading more frequently, and is held annually by the United Way, which trains all of its volunteers in Gales Ferry before sending them out across Southeastern Connecticut.

At Gales Ferry School, volunteers Eris Gialpis, Kevin Freiert and Doly, all donning copies of the Cat in the Hat's characteristic tall red-and-white hat, headed to six classrooms, trading off reading Seuss classics like "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" and "Hunches in Bunches" to the intent first- and second-graders.

The students all had been asked to wear shirts with something readable on them, and arrived with T-shirts saying things like "Everything is Awesome."

During the event, students also got a visit from a therapy chocolate lab, which typically visits every two weeks and serves as an audience for the youngest students practicing reading aloud.

Students in Candace Romano's second-grade class had taken the message of Read Across one step further: each taking a pledge to read "every day and night" in order to become better readers for life.

"We talk a lot about setting goals," Romano said. "(We) reiterate what makes it better every day ... like the Pledge of Allegiance."

n.lynch@theday.com

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