By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON March 05, 2002 It seemed just like a regular birthday party fun games to play, beanbag chairs to jump on, cookies and punch, and kids in their pajamas.
But this was the first time Patti Drakes daughters had ever worn their pajamas to school. And wasnt that Principal Jacky Robisch wearing a Dr. Seuss t-shirt?
Thursdays party at Sullivan Wests Delaware Valley campus certainly wasnt your traditional birthday bash.
The youngsters came back to school at the end of the day decked out in their snazziest pjs to read some stories with their parents and say Happy Birthday to one of the most famous writers of all time Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
This was, in fact, the third time teachers Natalie Kinney and Sherry Zona, along with Robisch and high school science teacher Bill Kirk, teamed up to celebrate reading and pay tribute to Seuss memory.
They saw that Read Across America Day, which is a national holiday set aside in honor of Dr. Seuss and one of the nations greatest pastimes reading, was celebrated in other Sullivan County schools. So, they thought, why cant we.
They began inviting the kindergarten and first grade classes to come to school in their pajamas and take part in Seuss-style games and a 15-minute reading session with their parents.
Its nice for the kids and the parents to come back to the school and do things together, Robisch said.
Its a nice community thing, said Kathy Bowers who had stopped by the party with her 6-year-old daughter Rain.
Its a good way to bring the parents together.
The parents got to talk while their children enjoyed snacks provided by the Delaware Valley Job Corps and sat with the Cat in the Hat.
But they also got to spend some one-on-one time with their children, curled up under blankets or huddled in beanbags while they read a Dr. Seuss classic.
Drake enjoyed the chance to spend some quality time with her two youngest children, 6-year-old Cortney and 10-year-old April.
This is the first time weve come to this, Drake said. But the older one [April] needs the reading experience and its good for her to read to her sister.
And of course Drake was there to hold her daughters on her lap and enjoy their company while her eldest daughter stayed home with dad.
This years Dr. Seuss celebration also worked nicely as a kickoff to the schools annual Parents as Reading Partners program. That program is one of the reasons Kirk has been eager to sign on as The Cat in the Hat at each birthday party.
I like being able to show the students the importance of reading, Kirk said. Its the very baseline of education.
When Zona and Kinney, who have done most of the planning to put the parties together, asked him if he would dress up as the cat, he jumped at the chance.
Its a lot of fun, Kirk said. I really enjoy it - its so important to get these young kids involved in reading.
To stress his point, Kirk spends the day after the party walking around to the different classrooms in the elementary section of the school dressed as the famous cat.
On Friday, he made the rounds and read a Dr. Seuss classic in each classroom of the elementary school.