Special guests read at Kingsborough

Sawyer Fredericks reads to students at Kingsborough Elementary School Friday for Read Across America Day. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — Each class at Kingsborough Elementary School was visited by a guest reader from the community, including singer/songwriter Sawyer Fredericks, on Friday as part of the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day.

Read Across America Day is annual reading motivation and awareness program calling for children to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthdate of children’s author Dr. Seuss.

Kingsborough Elementary School Principal Trisha Bobowski said that the pre-K through second-grade school celebrated Read Across America the previous week, through different dress up days based off of Dr. Seuss books. The week was meant to end with the reading event featuring community members, but school was canceled due to snow on March 2 and the event rescheduled for Friday.

Bobowski and school secretary Deborah Ash organized the event and invited the group of about 20 community members. The group arrived at the school library around 10 a.m. carrying their selected reading materials.

Volunteers ran the gamut from police officers, firefighters, pageant winners, a city court judge, an assistant district attorney, a local store manager, coaches, an assemblyman and a musician.

“The event connects kids with community members and other people that they may not see,” Bobowski said. “It’s more exciting when they have somebody else coming in and reading to them.”

While each guest headed to their assigned classroom to read, Fredericks stayed in the library where two secondgrade classes were brought to listen while he read “Henry Possum,” by Harold Berson.

The book told the story of young Henry Possum, an adventurous possum who is too busy humming to listen to his mother’s warning about the dangers of the forest. When he becomes lost, he uses his musical abilities to find his family and learns a valuable lesson about listening to his mother.

The book features a variety of forest creatures making their own “music” through croaks, chirps and motions that Fredericks sang out for the students.

After he was finished, Fredericks offered to play a couple of songs for the students on the acoustic guitar he brought.

A few students were reluctant, asking Fredericks to read another book instead, before a teacher suggested they hear a song first.

Although the second graders didn’t recognize Fredericks, they listened to his songs attentively and the other volunteer filtered back into the library after they finished reading to listen as he played.

Fredericks started with “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival before playing his own song “Not My Girl,” written when he was 12 years old.

Once Fredericks was finished singing, the kids headed back to their classrooms.

Fredericks said he was nervous about participating in the reading event when Kingsborough administrators contacted him, saying he didn’t have much experience reading aloud in public despite his musical career.

“Reading and writing, they don’t go together when I’m writing my songs. I’m not writing down lyrics or anything, I’m imagining my lyrics and just remembering them. I don’t think I’ve ever written down one of my own songs, except when I was younger,” Fredericks said.

He said he personally enjoyed the experience and hoped the kids did too.

“I thought of it as a learning experience,” Fredericks said. “I enjoyed the kids reactions when I was reading the book, they’re adorable.”

Bobowski said that the event went very well and the school would invite community readers again next year on Read Across America Day. As March is National Reading Month, Bobowski said Kingsborough students will be participating in another reading event throughout the month, a 10,000 book challenge.

If students across the school read 10,000 books by the end of the month they will win the opportunity to throw water balloons at Bobowski one day this spring, a prize the student body voted to select.

Bobowski noted the importance of the school’s reading events for the young students.

“It’s to increase their love of reading,” Bobowski said. “It’s important to be a lifelong reader and always want to learn more.”

Guest Readers

Community volunteer readers at Kingsborough Elementary School’s Read Across America Day event included:

— Michael Hallenbeck, P.E. teacher

— Alexis Houser, Miss Montgomery County Outstanding Teen

— Chelsea Cirillo, Miss Fulton County

— Dan Sleezer, Price Chopper manager

— Debra Finkle, Berkshire Volunteer Fire Department Captain

— Chad Brown, Fulton County District Attorney

— Chris Stanyon, Fulton County Assistant District Attorney

— Richard Giardino, Fulton County Sheriff

— Traci DiMezza, City Court Judge

— Michael Harrington, Swim coach

— Beth Whitman Putnam, First female to become NYS Fire Chief

— Dotty McVean, Office of Assemblyman Marc Baker

— Joshua Herod, Kingsborough P.E. teacher

— Tim Berenger, Meco Volunteer Fire Department

— Joe Gillis

— Willis Wood, Fulton County Sheriff’s Department

— Sawyer Fredericks, Winner of The Voice, musician

— Officer Ryan Baker, Gloversville Police Department

By Paul Wager

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