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Belmont Central Elementary hosts Read Across America event

Mar 12, 2020 11:25AM

The Cat in the Hat (Andy Harley) reads to Belmont Central Elementary School fourth grade students during last week’s Read Across America event. Photo by Alan Hodge

By Alan Hodge

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Belmont Central Elementary School had some special guests and plenty of exciting fun last Friday when it hosted a Read Across America event. 

Read Across America can be traced back to May of 1997. This is when a small group of people at the National Education Association (NEA) came up with the idea to create a day of the year that celebrates reading among children. They reasoned that since many school football programs can get children engaged in the sport through pep rallies, then why couldn’t the same thing be done for reading? So they decided to advocate for a Read Across America program that would 

be celebrated on the birthday of one of the most prominent childrens book authors ever – Dr. Seuss. The day was officially launched March 2, 1998, and ever since it has continued to grow in scope and size. Today, more than 50 national nonprofit and association sponsors and more than 3.3 million NEA members  support the effort every year. 

Last week also saw Read Across America events held at schools across Gaston County.

Belmont Central’s program featured a visit from the Cat in the Hat (Andy Harley), Miss Gaston County  Mariana Linares, the Belmont Central eagle mascot (Megan Rich), and G.C. Book Bug (Abigale McKinney). 

The event kicked off in the school gym where Todd Hagans, Gaston Schools chief communication officer, read selections from books like Pugs in a Bug and If You Give a Dog a Donut, to scores of children and parents. Hagans explained the importance of reading and exhorted everyone to take time often to sit down with a good book. After the speech, the kids, many of whom were dressed in pajamas, had a mini read-a-thon with their parents or fellow kids. Meanwhile, the guests visited classrooms and also encouraged the children they met to read, read, read.

Belmont Central principal Phyllis Whitworth was excited at the positive impact the event had on her students.

“The reason we celebrated reading is because it  is so vital to a child’s success,” Whitworth said. “When a child opens a book and begins reading they can imagine an entire world with dreams and goals they can hope to achieve. Reading is the key to everything.”