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Capito reads aloud, donates books to students

September 24, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito visited Rosemont Elementary School Monday afternoon and read a portion of Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" aloud to first-graders before giving a copy of the book to each student.

Accompanied by Susan B. Neuman, assistant U.S. secretary of elementary and secondary education, and Laurie Rich, assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs, Capito, a Republican, said the three came to Rosemont "to really highlight reading."

Reading is an important part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which took effect this school year.

President Bush signed the bill on Jan. 8, 2002. It gives states more flexibility on how they spend education money, but in return requires that they set standards for student achievement, and hold students, teachers and other educators accountable for results, according to the Web site www.nochildleftbehind.gov.

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As a few parents looked on, the students filed into the school's library, sitting on the floor or at tables.

They recited by rote portions of the two books read, "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and "Green Eggs and Ham."

A few turned around to smile at reporters and photographers.

When Capito told the students that each would receive a copy of Seuss' book, many said they already owned one. When she asked what they would do if they received another, one girl replied that she would give hers to her younger brother, while another girl said she would throw her old copy away.

Although many of the students did not realize who the women were - one girl shook her head and turned shyly away when asked if she knew what Capito did - they knew enough to seek one thing.

"Oh, she's signing them," one child whispered when Capito began autographing a book. Several children then crowded around Capito, trying to get their books signed.

Capito said afterward she was impressed with the students.

"They seemed really receptive," she said.

After reading to the students, Capito, Neuman and Rich met with parents and teachers in the school cafeteria to discuss issues and answer questions. Members of the media were not allowed to attend.

Waiting for that meeting to begin, Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said he was pleased with the visit, Capito's second to Rosemont.

"I think anytime that you can get someone from the U.S. Department of Education in your schools, it's very positive. It's something that we welcome," Arvon said.

Too often when people discuss problems in public schools, they mean those in inner-city or urban areas, Arvon said.

By visiting Berkeley County, Neuman may have picked up on one thing that could trigger a change in policy, Arvon said.

"It just gives a flavor of what's happening in West Virginia and particularly what's happening in Berkeley County," Arvon said.

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