Springstead High School senior Jenny Qiao, 18, was surfing the Internet recently looking for community service ideas when she found one that really tickled her.
March 2 was Dr. Seuss' birthday, she learned, and one of the days the National Education Association sponsors Read Across America.
The program brings children and books together and Jenny thought that would be a good idea for her Future Business Leaders of America chapter. She considered the school she attended as a young child, Spring Hill Elementary, and remembered fondly how the cafeteria workers served green eggs and ham on Dr. Seuss' birthday.
She pitched the idea of reading at Spring Hill to FBLA volunteers. FBLA adviser and business teacher Margo Drady and Spring Hill Elementary library media specialist Susan Timberlake agreed it was a good idea.
The students decided not to just read, though. They collected Dr. Seuss-themed cakes and cookies donated by Sweetbay, Publix and Winn-Dixie supermarkets to add to the celebration. Then they headed over to the elementary school.
They met with Timberlake, who equipped them with books and bookmarks and directed them to the classrooms. The recipients of the readers were kindergarten, first- and second-grade students.
Jenny, who is the FBLA president, started out reading Hop on Pop to Nancy Grimes' second-grade class. The children listened politely, giggled often and applauded when Jenny was done.
FBLA treasurer junior Trevor Cartwright then took over with One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, while Jenny headed out to help cut the two cakes into 300 pieces.
After Trevor was finished, Adriana Nguyen, 8, who said she likes to read, shared why she thought the high school students came to see her. "To be nice to us," she said.
Bryan Rodriguez, 7, said his favorite Dr. Seuss book is Hop on Pop and the high school students came to read to them, "to make you laugh and have fun."
Emily Campisi, 8, whose favorite story of the day was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, explained why she enjoys the legendary author's stories. "I like the way it rhymes and I knew that Dr. Seuss invented the sousaphone."
She said the older students came by for a couple of reasons. "I think they just want to make us happy and think about Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss must be a very funny man and he likes to rhyme. If he's still alive, I would like to meet him."
Like Adriana, Emily likes to read and recognizes its value. "Reading's very good 'cause it gets lots of fun into your brain and you learn stuff," she said.
Timberlake was delighted that the older students came to her school and said she hopes the younger children see that reading is important to students of all ages. "Students look up to them," she said.
A benefit for the older children, FBLA adviser Margo Drady said, is that this kind of event "gives them exposure to something they've never experienced."
Senior Madonna Snowden, FBLA reporter, said, "Oh, I loved it."
"It was so much fun," she said. "They were so polite. I volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters, so I know a lot of them."
Senior Brittany Robinson also had a good time. "I could do this every week," she said. "This could be my job."
The other FBLA members who visited Spring Hill were vice president of public relations senior Jordan Burchell, senior Chris Echanique, senior Kelly Kamin, vice president of membership junior Caleb Shallabarger and senior Terry Simon.
During the activities, Spring Hill Elementary School principal Marvin Gordon happened by. "I really appreciate the high school coming over to give support to our students," he said. "It shows that reading is important to all of us."
Paulette Lash Ritchie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.