Fort Stewart schools celebrate Read Across America
March 11, 2010
<b> FORT STEWART, Ga. </b> - Students at Fort Stewart's three elementary schools had some special visitors at their school this week, including Ginger Cucolo, wife of Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, 3rd Infantry Division commander; and Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, 3rd ID deputy commanding general-rear. Their visit was to help the students celebrate the National Education Association's Read Across America program and motivate children to want to read.
When Brig. General Phillips visited Terry Houtkooper's first grade class at Brittin Elementary School, Tuesday, he was warmly greeted by 14 eager children who had been told by their teacher they were in for a treat - a general officer was going to read to them.
After returning their greeting, Brig. Gen. Phillips asked the students if any of their parents were currently deployed. One young man in the back quickly responded that his father was "gone to war." Brigadier General Phillips thanked him and the other children for their parents'service then offered to allow one of the students to wear his "hat," first asking them what it was called. The same young man who'd said his father was deployed told the general his "hat" was called a beret.
The book chosen for the deputy commander to read was "The Cat in the Hat," by Dr. Seuss, which was an appropriate choice since Read Across America is observed in conjunction with the March 2 birthday of Theodor S. Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. As he read to students, Brig. Gen. Phillips interacted with the kids, leading them to join him with the rhyming scheme for the final word of each sentence. He'd then pause and ask questions like, "Do we trust the cat'" At the end of the book, he repeated the last sentence with emphasis.
"What would you do if your mother asked you'" Brig. Gen. Phillips asked.
He then elaborated with another thoughtful question, "Would you tell the truth'"
The students seemed to be thinking about an answer then several spoke at once, some saying yes; others said the truth might get them in trouble. Brigadier General Phillips then passed along some advice, saying that if you want someone to tell you the truth, you owe them the truth as well.
Before leaving their classroom, the students presented Brig. Gen. Phillips a certificate from Read Across America and thanked him for his visit. According to the NEA's "Seussentenial" Web site, reading opens doors to achievement, and the Read Across America celebrations are meant to encourage children to want to read and develop the building blocks that lead to higher learning.