WEST ORANGE, NJ - In conjunction with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, the national Read Across America campaign, and other school wide activities, Gregory and Kelly Elementary School students were treated to visits from students from the state-approved Career and Technical Education Early Childhood program at West Orange High School on March 1.

Students from Early Childhood and Family Studies II classes read children’s books by Dr. Seuss like "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "The Lorax" and led fun activities ranging from planting seeds and creating interactive beetles to decorating colorful fish and masks. 

Early Childhood and Family Studies teacher Cyndee Critelli and Mrs. Tindall, WOHS Library Media Specialist, accompanied the WOHS students. Critelli prepared the high school students for weeks before their elementary school visits, giving suggestions about reading levels, activities and classroom-management techniques and how to help the students gather and organize supplies.

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“After hearing the story ‘It’s Okay to be Different’ and completing a group puzzle, my third graders aren’t ‘puzzled’ about being different,” said Kelly third grade teacher Jennifer Imperial. “They know they are all accepted for their similarities and tolerant of their differences.”   

The WOHS students were pleasantly surprised as well.

“The experience really opened my eyes to being a teacher, and that is the career path I want to pursue,” said senior Michelle Montesleoca.

“Experiencing first hand, the perks of teaching such wonderful and disciplined students was such a rewarding experience, beneficial for them as well as us,” said junior Anu Adegbite.

Principals Michelle Thompson and Joanne Pollara, teachers, and organizers at the respective schools said they were truly pleased with the visit.

“Gregory School students enjoyed celebrating the 20th anniversary of Read Across America Day with West Orange High School students,” said Thompson. “Read Across America celebrates Seuss' birthday and the joys of reading. Our students loved having the high school students read to them and then complete an activity.” 

Thompson added that students were “grinning ear to ear” when leaving school with their projects.

“I was truly impressed with the maturity, creativity, and enthusiasm of the high school students and the attentiveness of the elementary students,” said Tindall. “The teachers and students at Gregory and Kelly Schools, who graciously welcomed us, were treated to educational and enjoyable stories and activities.”

Tindall said the school looks forward to many more years of this special collaboration.