Camp Lejeune, NC | March 7, 2013
There were giggles and wiggles and folks of all sizes dressed in hats and capes and hairy surprises. A couple of Things and a cat led the way for the parade of students to have their say. "Books are the best," they shouted with glee. "More than anything else, we love to read."
Scores of students marched as their favorite book characters during a parade marking the birthday of Dr. Seuss, the famous children's author, at Tarawa Terrace Elementary School aboard the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune housing area Feb. 28.
"This is part of our Seussarian celebration," said Leigh Anne Kapiko, school principal. "It brings the whole community together, and the kids feel part of something bigger."
Although the character parade was the highlight of Read Across America week at the school, the teachers and staff prepared fun activities every day, including decorating classroom doors, wearing silly socks and chowing down on green eggs and ham.
"They really get into it with a common goal of creating a fun week of learning," Kapiko explained. "They even become competitive. Their creativity is seemingly boundless."
Excitement filled every classroom as guest speakers visited throughout the week to read stories to the young students. Kim Gorry, wife of Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Gorry, commanding general for Marine Corps Installations East – MCB Camp Lejeune, jumped at the chance to participate.
"I think the single most important thing you can do is read to a child," she noted. "I love to see the looks on their faces when they're enthralled by a story."
By focusing on classic Dr. Seuss stories for the week, teachers and staff were able to stoke the children's love for literature in an entertaining way and re-emphasize the relevance of reading.
"Dr. Seuss teaches so many good life lessons," Kapiko stated. "The kids really latch on to the morals and deeper messages of the stories."
Carol Dula, the school's media specialist, lit up as she spoke about books, reading, and how much fun the entire school had throughout the week.
"It's important for kids to know reading opens up a world of learning," she responded. "It takes them outside of their reality. Reading is key to life."
Educators aren't immune to the influence of technology on the younger generation, but Dula countered how books still have a place in culture and society.
"Technology moves so fast," she said. "With books and stories, the kids have time to digest it."
Kapiko echoed Dula's statements and explained how the school keeps up with the fast-paced transition.
"The purpose for reading has changed," Kapiko affirmed. "In elementary school, we focus a lot of our attention on reading nonfiction so (students) can learn to discriminate between fact and fiction."
She realizes the internet provides an infinite amount of information and is typically the first place people look for answers.
"We recognize it's where they're headed, and we want (our students) to be able to distinguish what's true and what's not," Kapiko said. "All the places they can go could be dangerous if they don't know."
While educating students is the priority of the every school, Kapiko knows there is more to being a part of the military children's day-to-day lives.
"Our staff makes efforts to be a family-friendly place because we understand we're part of a bigger mission," she remarked. "In the military, the only constant is change. Teachers are there all year. Sometimes going to school can take (the children's) minds off the fact mom or dad won't be home for a while. We are the constant for them."
For more information about school events call 450-1635.