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Students Celebrate Read Across America Day

Different schools find different ways to recognize the day

One school two school, old school new school. It may not be Dr. Seuss at his finest, but all across the Howell Public Schools students were celebrating the birth of one of America's great children's authors. 

At students had guest readers in their class from across the town as well as special visitors from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Tech Sgt. Barbara Richardson said the servicemen and women who came to the school were part of the bases' Community Outreach Volunteer Experience (COVE). "It's something that gives us an opportunity to volunteer to read to the kids," she said. "We can choose what we want to do and this is just something I thought would be fun to do."

Coming to the school in their uniform makes the experience even more special for the students according to Richardson. "First they think we're in the Army and then we tell them we're in the Air Force and we fly planes," she said. "It's exciting to see them happy."

For Richardson it was her first trip to Howell for the California native. Lt. Col. Paul Novello comes from neighboring Jackson and said getting the chance to read to the students was a fun way to spend the day. "I always love reading to kids and I love reading Dr. Seuss so it was a win win for me," he said. 

Novello said days like this also helps the children to relate to the troops. "A lot of people have the perception that the military is very channelized to one thing where we do so much and there's so much humanitarian stuff that goes on being involved with the civilian populous," he said. "It's just a good interaction. We get to go out and show these kids and hopefully develop future interest in the military and future leaders."

Along with their military guests the young leaders also got a visit from the district's leader with Superintendent Enid Golden coming to visit. Getting to read some of her favorite books to the students was something Golden said she greatly enjoyed. "It's just a celebration of the joy of reading and for the children to see that the adults in their lives have a love and appreciation for reading," she said. 

Just down the road at the students got a different lesson from a four legged guest. Karen Quigley and her dog Elwood came to visit on Friday to talk about a variety of topics.

A mix of different breeds, Elwood earned national attention a few years ago when he was crowned World's Ugliest Dog in 2007. Even with that title, Quigley said he is still a lovable pup like any other. In his book "Everyone Loves Elwood," Quigley said the students can learn more about accepting each other's differences. "The message in the story is that it's okay to be different and just because you're different doesn't make you any less lovable," she said. 

Elwood is also a rescue dog and part of his work is to help raise awareness about other animals who are in need of a home. "He's adorable," Quigley said of the first time she saw the pup. "I saw that face and I couldn't resist."

Since winning the title Quigley said they have been all around the country but have spent most of their time going around the tri-state area. "The beauty of it is the kids have always loved him," she said. "The kids see him as different but they don't see him as different. They accept him just the way he is."

Elwood's visit was arranged in part by Josephine Schneider, the school's educational media specialist. "I just thought he could kind of relay that message of acceptance of everyone especially in a school that has a large population of special needs students," she said. "I think that our school has some of the most tolerant students you will find in any school and it's such a great message."

On a day where the author is known for his trouble making cat, Schneider said it is a good lesson on Dr. Seuss' birthday. "We're celebrating a New Jersey author but we're bringing a really meaningful message to the children and to the school."

For more information on Elwood and his lessons, check out his website

There were no green eggs and no ham, but the students in both schools had a fun way to end a busy week. 

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