Read Across America inspires students at McKinley Elementary

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EL CENTRO – In honor of the birthday of children’s author Dr. Seuss, McKinley Elementary School hosted law enforcement and first responders at its annual Read Across America day on March 2. Representatives from the El Centro Fire Department, U.S. Customs, the Border Patrol, Imperial County Fire, Gold Cross, the county Probation Department, and Sen. Ben Hueso’s office read to kindergarten through sixth grade students in their classrooms.

The national Read Across America Day takes place in schools all over the United States. It is a nationwide reading celebration honoring author Theodore Geisel, famously known by his pseudonym, “Dr. Seuss.”  McKinley School is no stranger to Read Across America, but this year the staff added a twist to the day by including law enforcement personnel and first responders.  

“It’s a wonderful chance for students to see the services in our community,” said Principal Patti Weeks.

The event was organized by Officer Michael Seaman of the El Centro Police. “It’s great [for us] to be involved in the community; for the kids to get to know officers, interact with us, and make their own perception,” Seaman said.

The law enforcement officers and first responder personnel were assigned to a certain classroom where they introduced themselves, read to the students, passed out snacks, and took time to answer questions about their job. Some individuals took students out to see their vehicles.

Matt Garcia, an El Centro firefighter and paramedic, said, “Reading is the most important thing in education. It’s great to be close to the public, getting to describe our duties, and letting them know that we’re always here to help.”

Garcia, whose mother is a retired teacher, read to a kindergarten class. “The kids were energetic and so happy that we were here,” he said.

Sixth grade student Jose Padilla said he was anxiously waiting for the guests of honor as the program began. When he caught a glimpse of the officers and first responders he said his first thought was, “Finally! I see them.”

 “We want to give a big thanks to Officer Seaman for setting this up.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to come together for the students,” said Principal Weeks.