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Cat in the Hat visits preschool students at Hagerstown church

Event was a celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday and of the literacy initiative - Read Across America

February 27, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • The Dr. Seuss character Cat in the Hat, played by Lisa Conrad, gets a big hug from Spread Your Wings Learning Center Preschool student Aniyah McFarlane Wednesday. The Cat visited classes at the Cleveland Avenue center inside Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hagerstown.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

The Cat in the Hat paid a visit to Spread Your Wings Learning Center Preschool students at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hagerstown on Wednesday but unlike the character in the book, left no mess to clean up.

“She read a book to us,” Aniyah McFarlane, 4, of Hagerstown, said. “I liked giving (the Cat in the Hat) a hug.”

Dr. Seuss’ most famous character, played by Lisa Conrad, of Hagerstown, read “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,” another book by the author, to six students there Wednesday morning. All week the students have been studying the famous author, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, leading up to the anniversary of his birth on March 2.

Geisel, who died in 1991, would have been 109 years old Saturday.

“This event is a celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday and the initiative ... of Read Across America, encouraging parents to read to their children,” said Jackie Kenworthy, co-director and teacher at the learning center. “I think it makes it real for the kids to understand how important it is when the adults in their life are modeling good behavior as far as reading.”

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After the week is over, the preschool has a scheduled open house for parents and the community from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, when the Cat in the Hat will return to read more stories and talk about the importance of reading each day.

“We believe in the importance of parents reading to their children,” Kenworthy said. “Dr. Seuss obviously is probably one of the most famous authors, especially for early learners.”

The students showed Conrad Dr. Seuss-related projects they have been working on so far this week, which include reading Dr. Seuss books and making cutouts of the Cat in the Hat. They planned to make green eggs and ham Wednesday.

“I liked showing (Conrad) my projects,” Jason Gossard, 5, said. “I made the Cat in the Hat out of paper.”

This was the third year that Conrad, one of Kenworthy’s friends, portrayed the Cat in the Hat.

“I love the reaction from the kids. Their eyes light up and they hug me,” Conrad said. “Kids need to be exposed to books, and when people outside the school come in and read to them, I think the kids really pay attention to that and are really drawn into that.”

Spread Your Wings Learning Center opened at the beginning of this year. It offers two-day and three-day programs for 3-year olds and 4- and 5-year olds, and is licensed by the Maryland State Department of Education Office of Child Care.

Kenworthy and Terri Gwizdala are the center’s co-directors.

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