Sparta students get special visitors for Read Across America event

New Jersey Devils mascot, dancer read to youth

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— Each year, schools across America celebrate the master rhymer and inventive wordsmith, Dr. Seuss, on his birthday by hosting a Read Across America event.

Initiated on March 2, 1998, the National Education Associations’ Read Across America is an annual reading program that seeks to motivate children to read, and in so doing hopes to foster academic achievement and a lifelong pleasure in reading. Children who are motivated to read and spend more time doing so are more successful in school, according to NEA.

Northern Hills Academy, a public school offering programs for students ages three to 21 with special needs, is located off of Route 15 in Sparta. Emphasizing sensory integration to help students with skills needed for achievement both at school and at home, the staff creates programs for each student’s needs while empowering students to achieve success.

On March 3, New Jersey Devils’ mascot NJ Devil and team dancer Brittany Sullivan visited the school to read to the students.

In the room of the event, the wall behind NJ Devil and Sullivan was checkered with posters and photos of Devils alumni. Students entered starry-eyed and clad in Devils jerseys and shirts.

Sullivan read Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham and Fox and Socks with perfect diction and composure – a true feat for the tongue twisters. Meanwhile, NJ Devil made grandiose gestures, which encouraged joyful reactions from the youthful audience.

At the conclusion of the reading, NJ Devil and Sullivan gave signed calendars, stickers, and other souvenirs to the endearing audience.

One student smiled enthusiastically when handed stickers from NJ Devil. With a wide grin, he promptly placed the sticker on his cheek – beaming all the while. Another student eagerly clapped after every few pages of Fox and Socks.

After the gifts were handed out, each child took a photograph with NJ Devil and Sullivan. One particular student, after being picked up by NJ Devil, thrust his arm outwards and cheered aloud for the cameras.

Not only was literacy encouraged in these students through the readings, but also a form of camaraderie between each other and the faculty.

Since 2004, Northern Hills Academy annually welcomes alumni from the New Jersey Devils for Read Across America. Previous guest visitors include Sherry Ross, National Hockey League sports broadcaster and journalist, Bruce Driver, former professional ice hockey defenseman, and Grant Marshall, retired professional ice hockey player.

The staff at Northern Hills Academy hope to continue this tradition for many years to come.

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