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Students celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday

by Angela Williams, Army Flier

The Army Flier
Fort Rucker, AL | March 7, 2012

Some children's eyes were wide with wonder. Some wrinkled up their noses in disgust, while others maintained expressions of confusion. But all the children waited in line for a plate of green eggs and ham during Fort Rucker Primary School's end-of-the-week celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday.

The event rounded up a full week of learning as part of the national Read Across America week. Some of the other activities scheduled throughout the week included crafts, painting, snacks, dress-up days and "lots of reading," said Neva Martin, a kindergarten teacher at the school. Some of the younger students also learned about rhyming words through the poems of Dr. Seuss.

In addition to the unusual snack, children were also treated to a gym full of field day activities. Each activity station was inspired by a Dr. Seuss book. At the "Foot Book" station, children played the game Twister and at the "Hop on Pop" station, children competed in a long jump contest and took turns on bouncy balls.

While almost all of the children were quick to participate in the gym activities, many were reluctant to taste the green eggs and ham.

"I can't bear to try it!" a first-grade girl said.

But after finding the courage to take the first few timid bites, most students cleaned their plates and several asked for seconds.

"It looks gross, but it's really good," one said. Another student said the green eggs were better than the eggs his mom made.

The snack was prepared by Lt. Col. Herman Valentine, the Deputy Assistant Commandant for the Army National Guard, and his helpers, Maj. Britt Reed, Army National Guard Programs and Training, and Col. Sal Renteria, Army National Guard Command Flight Surgeon. Valentine has made a tradition of cooking green eggs and ham for his wife's class every year, but this was the first year for the two others to participate.

Reed and Renteria read Dr. Seuss books to the children while Valentine manned the cook station.

"We've done this every year since we've been married and every year we get better at it," said Jennifer Valentine, a first-grade teacher, adding she's not sure if the children or her husband enjoy the day more.

"I look forward to this every year," the lieutenant colonel said. "We used to do (the eggs) scrambled, but it didn't look anything like the book."

This year, he may have perfected his recipe for Dr. Seuss-style green eggs. Valentine fried the eggs on a griddle, sprinkling them with salt and pepper and coating them with a mixture of water and food color from a spray bottle. The ham was cooked in similar fashion, but in an electric skillet and without the spray bottle.

He said he was expecting to cook about 70 eggs for several classes throughout the day.

Martin, the kindergarten teacher, said all the teachers worked together to make the week a success. They planned the activities, set up the stations and cleaned up together. A few parents joined in to help as well.

All the supplies will be saved to use again during next year's Read Across America week, she added.

Read Across America is an annual event, planned around Dr. Seuss's birthday on March 2, that aims to encourage children to read. It also provides parents and Family members with tools to promote reading year-round.

"It's just a fun way to celebrate a birthday," Jennifer Valentine said. 

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