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Clayton schools reschedule annual reading day

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Like a test, or picture day missed by students, Clayton County Public Schools has scheduled a make-up day next week for Read Across America Day.

The county's schools were among many metro-Atlanta systems which did not participate in the National Education Association's Read Across America Day on March 2, because of a snowstorm that passed through the area a day earlier.

School officials have selected March 20 as this year's new Read Across America Day.

During the reading enhancement event, local officials and "celebrities" will read to the county's fourth-graders. Included will be mayors, school board members, state representatives and senators, and local officials in law enforcement.

"We rescheduled the event because of the commitment made by our celebrity readers to come out and read to the children," said School System Community Relations Liaison Rhonda Burnough, who coordinates the reading event. "We didn't want to disappoint them."

Read Across America Day is traditionally held on March 2, the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, who is more commonly known as the children's book author, Dr. Seuss. Clayton County school officials call their reading day observance "Celebrate Reading."

This is the third year the school system has sent "celebrity" readers to the schools.

The "celebrities" who read are assigned schools by district officials, and they spend 20 minutes reading to students in each fourth-grade classroom. Burnough said a list of celebrity readers for the rescheduled reading day will not be available until Friday.

Parents and other volunteers also read to students in all elementary grade levels throughout the day.

Some Clayton County schools have already had other Read Across America-related events, but some, like the Church Street Elementary, are waiting until the district-wide event.

Officials at Church Street announced Tuesday that they are seeking fathers, other male relatives of students, or family friends, to read to children on March 20, for their annual "Men Do Read" program.

Assistant Principal Paulette DeVaughn said the school traditionally holds its "Men Do Read" program on Read Across America Day, but like the county's other schools, their reading event was postponed because of the weather. DeVaughn said the school also does the "Men Do Read" program to get more men involved in the school.

"We have 20 men signed up, so far, but we need as many as we can get," DeVaughn said. "Our target is to have at least 40 men in the building on that day."

Superintendent John Thompson will be one of the readers at Church Street, Burnough said.

Kevin Pearson, a spokesman for the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), the state branch of the National Education Association, said GAE officials asked school systems affected by the snowstorm to let the association know when Read Across America Day events would be rescheduled. No districts responded to the request, Pearson said.